In the space of two days this week, handguns were left unattended in two women’s restrooms at the University of Texas.
A holstered pistol was found Tuesday on top of a toilet paper dispenser in a restroom stall at the Graduate School of Business building on the main campus, said Cindy Posey, a university spokeswoman. Then, on Wednesday, a pistol was found in a bathroom at the Commons Learning Center on UT’s Pickle Research Campus, about 9 miles north of the main campus.
Both weapons were retrieved by officers with the UT Police Department. On Wednesday, a student who has a license to carry a handgun claimed the weapon found the previous day, Posey said. UT police found the owner of the second gun, who is not affiliated with UT and who was attending a conference at the Commons, she said.
Neither person is being identified as the incidents remain under investigation, Posey said.
These are the first cases of handguns being left unattended at UT since a new law on campus carry took effect 18 months ago, Posey said.
It became legal in August 2016 for handgun licensees to carry their weapons in a concealed fashion in public university buildings, subject to gun-exclusion zones established on a campus-by-campus basis. State law had allowed licensees to carry concealed handguns on the grounds of public institutions of higher learning — but not in buildings — since 1995.
It remains illegal to openly carry or display a handgun on a college campus in Texas. In addition, UT’s campus carry policy says that license holders who carry a handgun on campus must keep it concealed and “on or about their person at all times or secure their handgun in a locked, privately-owned, or leased motor vehicle.” Students, faculty or staff members who violate the policy can be subject to disciplinary action.
The UT Police Department said it would work with the Texas Department of Public Safety and the university’s dean of students to determine the “future course of administrative action” regarding the student who left the gun at the business school building.
“UTPD will determine if charges can be filed against the owner,” the department said in a statement.
Posey said UT police will report the incident at the Pickle campus to the DPS and will determine if charges can be filed.