General prohibition on guns in schools and campuses
Subject to the exceptions described below, Texas law generally prohibits people from intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possessing or “going with” a firearm on the premises of a school or educational institution, including both public and private K-12 schools and institutions of higher education (colleges and universities), unless pursuant to written regulations or written authorization from that school or institution.1 This restriction also generally applies to the grounds or building where an activity sponsored by a school or educational institution is being conducted, or in a school or educational institution’s passenger transportation vehicle (such as a school bus), unless pursuant to written regulations or written authorization from the institution.2 State law also generally prohibits people from carrying firearms on premises where a high school or collegiate sporting event or interscholastic event is taking place (unless the person is a participant in an event requiring use of firearms).3
People with concealed carry licenses may keep firearms or ammunition in a locked, privately owned or leased motor vehicle in K-12 school parking areas provided that the firearm or ammunition is not in plain view.4
In 2023, Texas passed a law requiring the board of trustees of each school district to ensure that at least one armed security officer is present during regular school hours at each district campus.5 If a school district cannot comply with this requirement, the school district may designate an employee or a person with whom the district contracts who has completed school safety training provided by a qualified handgun instructor certified in school safety and carries a handgun on school premises in accordance with written regulations or written authorization of the district under state law to provide such security.6
Campus Carry by people with a CCW License:
The general prohibition on members of the public carrying guns in schools applies in both public and private institutions of higher education and K-12 schools alike. However, in 2015, Texas passed legislation to significantly weaken its laws regarding carrying weapons on college and university campuses by people with valid handgun licenses.7 State law now generally authorizes people with valid handgun licenses to carry concealed handguns on college and university campuses, unless the educational institution has exercised its authority to restrict them from doing so.8
This law provides public colleges and universities with only some discretion to establish “reasonable” rules, regulations, or other provisions regarding concealed carry by license holders on the institution’s campus or premises, so long as these rules do not generally prohibit or have the effect of generally prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed handguns on campus.9 If a public college or university prohibits concealed carry in a portion of the campus, such as a dorm building or classroom, Texas law requires that institution to provide effective notice of that restriction.10
Private or independent institutions of higher education have more discretion and control over their own campuses, and may regulate or outright prohibit people from carrying concealed firearms on their campuses, any grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by the institution is being conducted, or a passenger transportation vehicle owned by the institution, but only after consulting with students, staff, and faculty of the institution.11
Though Texas passed legislation in 2021 that generally authorizes members of the public to carry concealed or holstered handguns in most public spaces without a handgun license, people without these licenses are generally not authorized to carry on college or university campuses or K-12 schools either.
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- Tex. Penal Code § 46.03(a).
- Id. See also Tex. Educ. Code § 37.125(a) (regarding exhibiting, using or threatening to exhibit or use a firearm in a school bus in a manner intended to alarm or to damage school property).
- Tex. Penal Code § 46.03(a)(8).
- Tex. Educ. Code § 37.0815 (as amended by 2017 TX SB 1566, Section 13.
- Tex. Educ. Code § 37.0814
- See 2015 Tx. S.B. 11, enacting Tex. Gov’t. Code § 411.2031.
- See Tex. Gov’t. Code § 411.2031; Tex. Pen. Code § 46.03(a)(1)(B).