Guns in Schools in Texas

Posted on August 14, 2015

Texas law prohibits intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possessing or going with a firearm on the physical premises of a school or educational institution, any grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by a school or educational institution is being conducted, or in a passenger transportation vehicle of a school or educational institution, whether the school or educational institution is public or private, unless pursuant to written regulations or written authorization of the institution.1 Handgun license holders are subject to this prohibition until August 1, 2016.2 (The terms “school” and “educational institution” are not defined, but presumably apply to colleges and universities as well as K-12 schools.)

Texas passed a law in 2015, which will exempt valid handgun license holders from this restriction, effective August 1, 2016, provided they carry a concealed handgun.3 Under this law, however, private or independent institutions of higher learning will retain discretion to establish rules, regulations, or other provisions prohibiting license holders from carrying handguns on the institution’s campus, or on the grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by such an institution is being conducted, or in a passenger transportation vehicle of such an institution, regardless of whether the handgun is concealed, if the institution provides effective notice.4 Additionally, both public and private institutions of higher learning will retain discretion to establish rules, regulations, or other provisions prohibiting the carrying of concealed handguns on “a portion of a premises located on the campus,” if the institution provides effective notice “with respect to that portion.”5

Texas law generally requires a student to be expelled if he or she unlawfully exhibits, uses or possesses a firearm on school property or while attending a school-sponsored or school-related activity on or off of school property.6 Texas law also authorizes the expulsion of a student who possesses a firearm while within 300 feet of school property, with certain exceptions.7

See our Guns in Schools policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Tex. Penal Code § 46.03(a). 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). []
  2. Tex. Penal Code § 46.03(f). []
  3. See 2015 Tx. S.B. 11, amending Tex. Penal Code § 46.03(a)(1). []
  4. See 2015 Tx. S.B. 11, creating Tex. Penal Code § 46.035(a-2). []
  5. See 2015 Tx. S.B. 11, creating Tex. Penal Code § 46.035(a-3). []
  6. Tex. Educ. Code § 37.007(a)(1), (k). []
  7. Tex. Educ. Code § 37.007(b)(3)(B), (k). []