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Weapons on Campus FAQs

Questions and Answers about University Weapons Policy

Thomas W. Keefe, President of the University of Dallas has formally approved a University of Dallas policy prohibiting weapons, including licensed concealed handguns, on the University campus except in limited circumstances and as otherwise specifically permitted by Texas law. The policy signed on March 10, 2016 by President Keefe reaffirms the University’s current policy and is a response to a change in Texas law which will legalize the carrying of a licensed concealed handguns on the campus of an institution of higher education unless university policy prohibits such activity. Senate Bill 11 authorized private universities to adopt a policy to regulate licensed concealed handguns on the campus of the institution, any grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by the institution is being conducted, or a passenger transportation vehicle owned by the institution. Although Senate Bill 11 does not become effective until August 1, 2016, the newly adopted UD policy is effective immediately and will be posted on the University website and included in the Student and Employee Handbooks and other published University materials.

Why does the University need a formal campus weapons policy?

After August 1, 2016 individuals licensed to carry a concealed handgun will be permitted to carry their licensed handgun on the property of a college or university unless specifically prohibited by university policy. This change in Texas criminal law authorizes private universities to adopt policies that prohibit concealed handguns on all parts of the private university campus except in parking lots and roadways where licensed handguns might be stored or transported by licensed holders. Previously state law prohibited concealed handguns on the campus of any public or private institution of higher education. The new state law takes effect August 1, 2016.

In general does the new University policy prohibit concealed handguns on the University campus?

Yes. In general the policy prohibits the possession and use of a concealed handgun on University property.

Are there any areas of the University campus where concealed handguns will not be prohibited?

Yes. Consistent with state law and current University policy, concealed handguns may be stored or transported in privately owned vehicles located in or on University owned parking lots, streets or driveways so long as the individual in possession of the handgun is licensed to possess the handgun. The handgun may not be removed from the vehicle however and the owner is expected to secure the weapon in the vehicle. Additionally, students and other individuals residing at Tower Village are not subject to the prohibitions of the University policy. Tower Village is not considered part of the University campus and therefore is not subject to University policy. Students and individuals living in Tower Village may still be subject to residential lease terms related to weapons.

Does the policy prohibit weapons in residence halls and university apartments?

Yes. Weapons are not permitted in any campus building including residence halls, academic buildings, the library, administrative offices or athletic facilities. No university building is exempt from the prohibition.

Does the policy apply to activities occurring off campus?

Yes. The policy applies off campus at any event that is sponsored or co-sponsored by the University except at events hosted at a personal residence not owned by the University of Dallas. If student, faculty or staff attend a University sponsored event occurring off campus such as a social event held at a local hotel or the Campus Ministry Conference in downtown Dallas, the policy applies to the location where the sponsored event is occurring. If a University-sponsored event occurs at a personal residence other than the President’s house the policy does not apply. Note however that the President’s house is considered University property and weapons continue to be prohibited in the President’s home.

Does the policy apply to all students, faculty and staff?

Yes. The policy applies to all students, faculty and staff as well as to University guests, visitors and contractors.

Can an individual carry a concealed handgun on campus if they are licensed to carry a concealed handgun by the State of Texas or any other state?

No. The policy prohibits any concealed handguns on campus regardless of whether an individual is licensed to carry a concealed handgun by the State of Texas or any other jurisdiction.

Is the new policy a departure from previous policy?

No. Previous University policy also prohibited weapons on campus. The formal action of the President was simply a response to an obligation imposed by the Texas legislature in 2015.

Are there any exceptions to the policy prohibiting weapons on campus?

Yes. The policy makes specific exception for:

  • Commissioned law enforcement officers or authorized military personnel in performance of their official duties.
  • Persons authorized by their employer and duly licensed and legally permitted under the law to possess a weapon (such as armored car drivers)
  • Individuals engaged in any activity where a particular weapon is required as part of the activity with the explicit written authorization from the Director of Campus Security. Any individual who anticipates participation in an activity where a weapon will be required should seek a written exemption from the Director of Campus Security. Examples might include, starter pistols for track and field events, bow and arrow for an archery demonstration or swords that might be used as part of a theatrical performance.

What “weapons” are prohibited on campus based on the Policy?

Although Senate Bill 11 specifically addresses handguns, the university policy prohibits weapons on campus including “any device that is designed to, or traditionally used to inflict harm such as firearms, slingshots, switchblades, daggers, bows and arrows, hand grenades, hunting knives, explosives, any object that could be reasonably construed as a weapon or that is intended to be used to inflict bodily injury, or any object legally controlled as a weapon or treated as a weapon by law. Firearms are defined as any device that shoots a bullet, pellet, flare, tranquilizer, dart or other projectile, whether loaded or unloaded, including those powered by CO2 – guns, air guns, dart guns, pistols, revolvers, rifles, shot guns, cannons and any ammunition for such devices. Note that Senate Bill 11 only addresses the issue of concealed handguns on campuses. Even with the change in state law allowing concealed handguns on campuses under certain circumstances, state law still prohibits rifles and other weapons on a university campus.

Are toy guns such as water pistols and Nerf guns prohibited by the policy?

No. The policy applies to devices that shoot bullets, pellets, flares, tranquilizers, spears, darts or other projectiles. The policy is not intended to prohibit objects that would be classified as toys except that the policy would prohibit bb guns, air guns and paintball guns. While look-alike toy guns are not specifically prohibited by the policy, it is likely that a campus user would be stopped for carrying an object that resembled a weapon if the object was seen on campus.

What action should an individual take if they suspect that an individual is violating the policy?

The policy obligates members of the campus community who observe an individual in possession of a weapon and who reasonably believes that the individual has not been specifically authorized by the Director of Campus Security, to report immediately to the Director of Campus Security. Campus Security will respond to any concerns related to violations of the policy either personally or by contacting the Irving Police Department.

What action should an individual take if they are aware of a specific individual possessing a weapon on campus?

In any emergency situation, members of the campus community should immediately call 911 to report an emergency. The City of Irving will respond quickly.

What are the sanctions for individuals violating the policy?

Students violating the policy may be subject to discipline up to and including expulsion, faculty and staff may also be subject to discipline up to and including termination. Guests, visitors and contractors violating the policy may be permanently prohibited from returning to campus. Individuals with specific and effective notice of the policy may be turned over to local law enforcement for further criminal action in accordance with Texas law.

What groups provided input on the draft policy prior to adoption?

The University relied on existing institutional groups to consult with students, staff and faculty. The University consulted with Student Government as the representative assembly of the University student community and with the University Council as the faculty and staff advisory group to the President. The Faculty Senate was provided an opportunity for comment, and individual members of the faculty provided comment through their Deans and department chairs. The Board of Trustees also expressed their formal support by resolution on February 26, 2016.

Do University security officers carry handguns while patrolling campus?

No. University security officers are not commissioned peace officers and are not authorized to carry weapons while on campus. In the event of an emergency requiring law enforcement, the University has close connections with the City of Irving Police Department and officers are on campus within minutes of an emergency call. Based on the comments of students, faculty and staff related to campus safety, the President will be appointing a committee prior to the end of the school year to consider emergency response planning and the role of campus security in that process.

How will visitors, guests, contractors and others who are not traditional members of the campus community be made aware of the policy?

The University will always have the authority to enforce its own policy and individuals who are informed of the policy either verbally by an individual with authority or electronically through the University website will be asked to leave based on the violation of the University policy. Criminal prosecution would only be available if the individual in violation has notice of the policy which will be provided both electronically on the University website and also may be provide orally by an individual with authority.

What is the criminal penalty for Trespass by a License Holder with a Concealed Weapon?

Entering property with a licensed concealed weapon when notice of a policy prohibiting weapons is publicly and conspicuously noted is punishable in a range from a Class A misdemeanor to a third degree felony.

Has the Catholic Church adopted a specific position related to weapons that is relevant to these policy issues?

The Catholic Church has not specifically addressed the issue of concealed weapons on campuses; however, the Church has authored a number of statements on the issue of violence generally. Pope Benedict XVI stated in his 2013 Message for the World Day of Peace that “Life in its fullness is the height of peace. Anyone who loves peace cannot tolerate attacks and crimes against life.” In 2013 while testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary with respect to Proposals to Reduce Gun Violence: Protecting Our Communities While Respecting the First Amendment, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reflected on the USCCB’s longstanding commitment to respond to violence and concluded with our obligation to “confront the culture of violence with love and work together to promote a culture of life and peace.” The USCCB has specifically called for Americans to support sensible regulations of handguns but has also recognized that curbing gun violence is a complex social issue that cannot be addressed through simplistic solutions. Ultimately, the Church has not issued any concrete guidelines relative to guns or gun control but has focused instead on addressing acts of violence.