The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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City Council bans open carry in public meetings

The College Station City Council voted unanimously Thursday to enact an ordinance prohibiting open carry during  meetings. 

The ordinance was created in response to the Open Carry Law that went into effect Jan. 1. The Open Carry Law allows licensed individuals to carry a handgun openly or concealed within a shoulder or belt holster. 

John Nichols, College Station City Council member, said the ordinance would not prohibit concealed carry and is limited to the places and times of city meetings under the open meetings act.

“We are allowed to exclude public carry when there are public meetings being held that under the rules of the open meetings law,” Nichols said. “So that’s mainly city council meeting rooms, planning and zoning commission meeting rooms and public meetings where the citizens are able to come and there may be public hearings where they speak on an issue of one kind or another.”

Nichols said the ordinance was formed to help create a comfortable atmosphere when discussing issues at city meetings. 

“The thinking behind it, and I think all of the council members concur, was that we don’t have a problem with open carry during working hours, people coming and going,” Nichols said. “When you are in a public meeting where you are having open debate our feeling was that there may be some citizens who might feel uncomfortable or intimidated sitting next to someone with an open carry weapon in their holster.”

Steve Aldrich, city council member, said Open Carry has not had a large effect in the College Station community.

“I would have to say that this has been for all intents and purposes a non-significant event,” Aldrich said. “Personally, I have not seen anyone open carrying since the provisions went into effect and other than seeing people making necessary precautions to having correct postings on their locations I have not seen any real significant activity in the community beyond that.” 

The College Station Police Department’s Lt. Chris Perkins and the University Police Department’s Lt. Allan Baron both said their respective departments haven’t received any calls so far regarding open carry. 

“I think our community has been just fantastic,” Perkins said. “They have taken it in stride, everyone that we have talked to has said so far it’s not really a big deal at all. That has been really good, nonetheless we prepared anyway in trying to anticipate expect the best but prepare for the worst is always the best way to go about it.” 

Baron said while university police officers will respond to calls off-campus, officers responding on campus have not been affected by the law.

“The law prohibits open carrying of a handgun on the premises [in buildings], private driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage or other parking area of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education,” Baron said.

Officers from both police departments have received training with respect to the new law since it was implemented. Aldrich said he feels the entire city was well prepared when the Open Carry Law went into effect.

“I just want to particularly emphasize my appreciation to both CSPD and UPD for their efforts in advance once this legislation was passed, and I’m sure comparable discussions have taken place at the county sheriff’s office in preparing for this and also in Bryant,” Aldrich said. “I think that the response and preparation for this change in the law was very well anticipated, planned for and prepared for by CSPD and UPD.”

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