UTEP Concealed Carry Taskforce to hold town hall meetings

Alonso Moreno, Copy Editor

With less than a year to go, The University of Texas System schools have begun to prepare for the impending concealed campus carry law to go into effect. As a result, the University of Texas at El Paso and other schools have begun to designate committees to address the law and make sure all campuses are on the same page when it comes to implementing the new law on Aug. 1, 2016.

The UTEP Campus Concealed Carry Task Force, much in the same manner as other committees, was created as a way for the campus to recommend rules, policies and gun-free zones to the UT System Board of Regents.

UTEP President Diana Natalicio appointed the task force, which consists of nine faculty representatives, seven staff representatives, five student representatives, three ex-officio representatives and one parent representative, and is led by chair Gary Edens, vice president of student affairs.

The task force, which has been meeting to discuss the law and how it will impact UTEP, expects a response from the UT System board by February of next year.

“The task force is meeting and it’s meeting to develop the policies and procedures that we will recommend the UT System board in December,” Edens said. “We will be writing a report, they will review it and make sure that we are in alignment with all the other UT System schools and we should get feedback on that by February of next year.”

At this point there are questions than answers, but Edens said that is due to some of the broader issues such as designating gun-free zones on campus.

“It does not have to be perfect, but you can’t have a situation on which UT Dallas allows concealed carry in the day care facility, but UTEP does not,” Edens said. “We just don’t want a situation where people ask why one place does it and the other does not.”   

Although the task force is centered on how to implement the law in the best interest for UTEP, the committee is composed of members from both sides.

“It’s a pretty broad representation and there is also people on the committee that want concealed carry on campus and those that don’t want concealed carry,” Edens said.

Additionally, Edens said that the committee is not debating the law, and that conversations of whether or not the law is a good thing are not part of their discussions, they are centered on how to implement the law and make it fair and equal to everyone in the campus community.

Student Government Association is part of the student representation within the committee, and Edens chose the members.

According to Hector Soltero, executive assistant from SGA, the members on the committee are concerned with the same tasks as all other members, but that they would still conduct hearings to receive continued feedback from students.

“Right now (this week) we are doing SGA listens, and we are reaching out to the entire student body to let us know any concerns they may have, whether is be on the gun policy or any other concern,” Soltero said.

Although it might be too soon for an official word regarding concealed carry and how it will fully affect UTEP, Edens said that everyone would work to make the transition as seamless as possible.

“It’s not going to be a place where everyone is going to carry guns,” Edens said. “This has not been a problem in other places and we are going to make sure to the best of our abilities it’s not a problem here at UTEP.”

Alonso Moreno may be reached at [email protected]