Earlier this week, I was put in one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situations regarding Campus Carry. I walked into the Health and Wellness Building at Lone Star College-North Harris a half-hour before my 7:30 PE class. As usual, I was carrying my trusty Glock 19. Knowing I'd have to change, I placed my holstered gun in my pocket when I dressed that morning so that it would not become exposed. I went to enter the locker room to change only to be met with a 30.06 sign. I thought to myself "I can change in a bathroom stall," which I was able to do. After changing, I put my street clothes containing my gun in my bag and proceeded to the gym.
At that point, things got interesting. I was told by a faculty member that I would have to lock my bag in the locker room becuase bags are not allowed in the gym. I explained to her exactly why that wasn't legally an option for me thanks to the school's Campus Carry rule. Even though this was more of a departmental policy issue and not one of a legal matter, the campus police were summoned. My interaction with the sergeant that came to meet with us was amicable. He told me that since I could neither enter the locker room to lock up my bag or keep my bag on me, that I would have to secure my gun in my car.
To make things a little more interesting, I was on my motorcycle that day. My only legal option was to place my gun in my gym shorts. Someone had made the comment that it would likely fall out, to which my response was "I'm not sure what else you'd like me to do. If it happens to fall out, that would be incidental exposure which is not illegal. It may cause a slight alarm with other students, but that's your issue to handle; not mine.”
I know that carrying a holstered Glock 19 in loose-fitting gym shorts is not ideal for my comfort, however, I would do so as a statement. If watching my Glock bounce around in my pocket makes people uncomfortable, I hope they complain. I've already made my complaint, but that has not yet been enough to affect change.
Wondering what rationale administrators could have that led to the adaptation of a rule barring the licensed concealed carry of handguns in locker rooms, I reached out to one of the chairs of the LSC Campus Carry Task Force for comment. I was informed the following:
“That was chosen as an exclusion zone for 2 reasons: 1) to avoid anyone having to unholster or remove a firearm while getting undressed. 2) to avoid firearms being stored in lockers."
The first premise behind the Task Force’s recommendation is false, and the second premise does not necessitate the inclusion of locker rooms in the list of exclusionary zones.
In a letter to the Dean over the Kinesiology Department, the Vice President, the President, the Chancellor, and the two Co-Chairs of the Campus Carry Task Force, I explained that if a carrier enters a locker room with a handgun placed in a modified belt holster inside a pocket, then the carrier can easily change clothing without unholstering or exposing of their concealed handgun. Giving a simpler example, I explained that a handgun can also be placed in a modified belt holster and placed in a compartment of a bag or backpack that does not need to be opened to allow the carrier to change clothing. In either case, the concealed handgun would remain safely concealed and holstered, thus refuting the co-chair's comments regarding the premises of the Task Force’s recommendation to include locker rooms in the
list of exclusionary zones. Furthermore, I concluded that the carrying of concealed handguns is generally prohibited in an area if the establishment of the rule barring the carrying of concealed handguns in that area is warrantless. Such a rule would be in conflict with Section 411.2031(d-1) of the Government Code of Texas that was enacted by Senate Bill 11, which states “The president or officer may not establish provisions that generally prohibit or have the effect of generally prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed handguns on the campus of the institution.”
I also explained in my letter that if their objective was to prevent carriers from securing their weapons in lockers inside the locker room, they could simply make a rule that forbade the use of school property for the securing of privately owned firearms. One could only assume that the Task Force feels that the lockers are not secure enough to secure firearms. If that is the case, they should probably relay their concern to the college's police force, as I have observed officers securing their equipment in those same lockers during their workout prior to the passage of the Campus Carry law.
All totaled, I delivered nine letters of similar language to various administrators requesting they grant my request for written authorization to enter the locker rooms while carrying a concealed handgun. The letters also requested the immediate repeal of the rule forbidding the carrying of concealed handguns in locker rooms. Letters addressed to members of the Campus Carry Task Force also requested changes to their recommendations.
After Taking Action
Presently, I have received only one response; an email from one of the members of the administration that claimed to not have the authority to fulfill my requests. This, however, is expected. My goal was to get those influential people whom I contacted to start thinking about the rules passed and this appears to have at least worked with that person.
I was asked "Why nit-pick? Why not just deal with it? Aren't there bigger fish to fry?" by a friend. I responded "This isn't about me. This is about the infringement of rights of everyone that carries a firearm on campus." This is about the infringement of the rights of the student that may not have the ability to articulate his position like I am able to do for myself. I'm sure someone out there is reading this thinking "all this effort to carry a gun into a locker room?" No, this is about keeping the administration honest. I am letting the administration know that their actions regarding Campus Carry WILL be scrutinized. I will be as vocal as possible when I believe that the concealed carry of handguns is prohibited with either no or flawed reasoning.
My next target on Lone Star College's Gun-Free Zones list: the campus's police facilities. Stay tuned. Stay vigilant.