Texas recently rolled out the welcome mat for concealed weapons on college campuses. The bill, known as the “campus carry” bill, will go into effect in August 2016 for universities and August 2017 for community colleges. Although private colleges can opt out of the bill, and public schools can designate “gun-free” zones, the measure has created a flurry of debate on both sides of the issue.
Supporters Claim the Bill Is a Protection
Republicans voted in favor of the new law. “I just feel that the time has come for us to protect the men and women of Texas who are carrying concealed on our campuses,” said the bill’s House sponsor, state Rep. Allen Fletcher.
Supporters also claim that most of the people who will carry their guns on campus will be older, responsible students who simply want to protect themselves. The argument claims that villains will be villains regardless of laws, and the new bill lets law-abiding citizens guard themselves against the people who would choose to do them harm.
Some Gun-Rights Advocates Dislike the Bill
Some people who support the rights of students and others to carry concealed guns dislike the attention the bill has brought to the issue, and they claim the bill gives too much leeway to opponents of concealed weapons rights.
Students for Concealed Carry expressed opposition to the legislation, which the group said gives “opponents of campus carry exactly what they wanted — complete local control over licensed concealed carry . . . We at Students for Concealed Carry would appreciate it (if) the bill’s authors and sponsors would quit confusing the issue by claiming a victory for our side. We don’t need to hide behind a gutted bill to save face.”
Professors and Students Express Concerns
In a New York Times article, reporters Manny Fernandez and Dave Montgomery wrote that professors worry about seeing students in their offices alone to talk about failing grades, if they believe the students may be armed. The article also noted that Democratic lawmakers and some university leaders have concerns about hikes in security costs and the effects of the bill on bringing in new teachers and students from other states.
Some students also stated their worries about having concealed weapons on campus. “I don’t think guns should be allowed, because that’s pretty scary,” 18-year-old sophomore Sarah Wang said in the Times article. “We’ve already seen so many instances where people get hurt because there are guns in schools.”
Do Guns Belong on Campus?
When the bill goes into effect, Texas will join seven other states that allow concealed weapons on campuses; Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin already allow guns. Nineteen states ban guns, and 23 states leave the decision up to individual schools. The other states that do allow guns give more freedom to weapons owners than the Texas law does.
Rick Brown, the chief of police at Southern Utah University in Center City, where students and faculty can carry concealed weapons in most campus areas, claims the university’s gun policy has never led to any problems on campus.
Obviously, the issue of whether guns belong on campus is a polarizing one. Regardless of which side of the issue they stand on, however, students should take common-sense measures to protect themselves and be aware of school and state policies regarding concealed weapons.