Texas says: ‘Yes to knives, no to text’

Video by Christina Soto | Broadcast Reporter, Story by Julia Vergara | Staff Writer

Two new Texas laws went into effect today. The laws state that it is now legal to carry machetes and other large knives in public, and it is illegal to text while driving.

According to a bill analysis by the House Research Organization, the term “illegal knife” was removed from the list of weapons that Texas residents were prohibited to carry—making it legal to carry a knife anywhere in the state.

While it is legal to carry large knives in public, such weapons will be prohibited from being brought on campus.

“There’s a Baylor policy that forbids weapons being on campus,” Baylor Police Chief Brad Wigtil said. “So what we would do is enforce it from a Baylor policy violation.”

Wigtil said carrying large knives on campus would violate the Student Conduct Code and the Campus Living & Learning’s conduct guide.

The Guide to Community Living said that all “non-kitchen knives” are included in the list of weapons that are prohibited on campus while kitchen knives must be less than 5.5 inches.

Students are able to find the consequences they may receive for violating these rules by referring to the Student Conduct Code, Section IV. Sanctions for Misconduct, according to Bethany McCraw, associate dean for Student Conduct Administration.

Some of the possible consequences for student misconduct ranges from a warning to probation and even expulsion.

The other law that went into effect has made it a misdemeanor offense to “read, write, or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle,” according to a bill analysis by the House Research Organization. The consequence of a first offense would be a $25 to $99 fine and another offense would be a $100 to $200 fine.

“Any kind of distracted driving results in so many traffic accidents and even traffic fatalities,” Wigtil said.

While the law prohibits texting while driving, it has no mention of using the phone for other purposes such as navigation. Wigtil said that even though it may be difficult to tell what a person is using their phone for, Baylor PD will enforce the law if it came to their attention.

Wigtil said that his biggest concern is for the safety of faculty, staff and students and he asks that people really focus on their driving while on campus—and even off campus.

“I think it’s more of an effort on educating the community that we have this new law,” Wigtil said. “It’s just so important as a prevention that we ask everyone to comply.”

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