On August 1, 2017, Senate Bill 11, which allows licensed individuals to carry a concealed handgun on community college campuses, went into effect on the Northeast campus. Before the implementation of the state law, NTCC administration created a committee of faculty, staff and students that worked to develop a campus carry policy.
The policy states that a licensed holder carrying a concealed handgun must have the weapon holstered in a way that covers the trigger and the entire trigger guard area at all times.
Carriers are responsible for knowing where or when concealed handguns are permitted, and which areas on campus are exclusion zones.
Northeast Vice President of Student Services Josh Stewart was responsible for developing a policy to ensure that the appropriate signage was created and when and where it was needed in a way that corresponds with the campus policy and the state law.
“Senate Bill 11 has certain requirements that are spelled out,” Stewart said. “Once our campus policy was developed in accordance to that, the policy makers had to tailor our campus carry policy with the law. Once that was done, we identified those areas. We set up a policy and procedure to make sure we set up appropriate signage at those areas.”
Students should be aware of signs posted in selected science laboratories around campus.
Several of the labs have been set up as gun-free zones in order to avoid an accidental discharge that could cause dangerous effects if certain chemicals mixed with gun powder.
The testing center will also be an exclusion area where a sign will be posted. There will be “temporary exclusion zones” where signs will be posted and taken down before and after certain events. These will include sporting and ceremonial events and other activities that the college president might find reasonable.
Residential students are also allowed to carry a concealed weapon in the dormitories as long as they follow the state law and college policy guidelines. According to the policy, students “must have a container that is large enough to fully contain all firearms placed in it and provide secure storage for their firearms, they must have exterior walls constructed of a minimum 16-gauge steel with a high strength locking system that must consist a combination or a biometric lock.”
Northeast President Dr. Brad Johnson said students should not be concerned about the new law because many people throughout the community are accustomed to being around firearms.
“Our part of the country has been comfortable with guns their whole lives,” Johnson said. “It’s always been a part of our culture. I don’t think that we think about it too much. I think the politics around it has sensitized people, but if you really ask yourself ‘is it any different?’ Those folks were carrying at church and carrying at the grocery store. I don’t think students need to be concerned at all about this, and I don’t think our faculty and staff need to be either.”
Students who carry a concealed handgun must know the state law as well as the campus policy to ensure that no rules are broken in any way. If a rule is broken, students could be subject to punishment by local law enforcement.
“If somebody does see an open firearm, and it’s not a police officer, then they should contact campus security,” Stewart said. “If there is a violation of some sort, we will turn it over to local law enforcement, and we will let them run their course with it. The permit holder has the responsibility to know where they can or can’t carry.”
The final draft of the policy is available on the college website at http://www.ntcc.edu/campuscarry/ApprovedCampusCarryPolicy.pdf