Campus Carry Will Not Make Our Universities Safer
Concealed carry on university campuses will not make us safer. For that is the priority gentlemen, safety, and that alone. Not political ideology and not political victory, but the safety of our students, of our faculty and staff, and of any passersby.
For the record I am a sophomore at the University of Texas—Austin. I am a Philosophy and Journalism—Newspaper Reporting & Writing simultaneous major. I am 18.
My parents were children when Charles Whitman ascended the UT Tower and carried out his terrible shooting spree. I was far too young to understand the anguish and horror of those affected by the Columbine High School shootings in 1999.
However, I am not too young now. I am fully cognizant of the dangers of campus shootings. I watched the Virginia Tech University shooting play out on national television. I watched, transfixed, as people went through what will likely be the worst experience of their lives. I watched in horror as they updated the count of those killed and wounded. I was appalled.
I was in the University Teaching Center, which is connected to the Perry Castaneda Library in September. That day our sorrow was limited. One student took his own life with a civilian version of an AK-47. He was 19 and had his whole life before him.
I sat in a lecture hall with over 300 students, 1 professor, and 4 teaching assistants from 8 a.m. until approximately 11:30 a.m. We waited. We waited with locked doors and a live news feed. We waited transfixed to the screen. We waited while UT police, Austin police, and other law enforcement and crime prevention agencies did their job. They did it superbly.
I received a text message as soon as UTPD was notified. It fully well reflected the gravity of the situation. Sirens were going off while law enforcement blocked the streets. No one in and no one out. By the time we were released from lockdown I was tired and hungry, but guiltily relieved. Someone was dead, but it was not me, not yet. I live on, my life to be determined. One man, but a year older than I, was not so fortunate.
The Texas Senate is scheduled to consider SB 354 tomorrow. This bill will prohibit “institutions of higher learning” from banning concealed handguns from their campus buildings and dormitories. This bill applies only to public universities via a distinction in the definitions. Private schools may opt out of allowing concealed handguns. HB 750, similar in verbiage and execution, is currently in the House Calendars Committee.
Survivors of the UT Tower shooting and the Virginia Tech shooting have testified in hearings held by both the House and Senate committees. They asked state legislators to vote down any such legislation forcing schools to allow concealed handguns. APD Chief Art Acevedo testified against passage of any such bill. UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa has, on record, stated his opposition to this legislation. William Powers Jr., president of the University, has also expressed his dismay with the current legislation being considered. Quite frankly, the list goes on and on.
Now my best understanding of the argument in favor is that it will increase the sense of safety for CHL permit holders. This I do not refute. I cannot. However, I do not see the connection to how that increases my safety. I am 18. I cannot carry a gun, let alone buy handgun ammunition—albeit there are loopholes here. I respect any other individual’s right to legally carry a gun. I do not want to see it or hear it go off. How does this increase my safety, and that of other underclassmen—not to mention those who choose not to carry?
Knowing without a doubt that someone next to me had a gun would increase my anxiety. With the stress, pressure, and hormonal imbalance of my age group I see no reason to add guns to the mix. That is foolish. That is reckless. That is arrogance of the highest degree. I would hope all parties involved are willing to pay the price.
Now, in all circumstance the best possible outcome is weighed against the worst possible outcome. This is not logically fallacious. Indeed, it is but in line with Rational Choice Theory—that is, no one would intentionally choose something that will prove to be to his or her own detriment.
The best possible outcome is that a law-abiding citizen may take the life of a potentially violent and clearly desperate person plausibly seeking to wreak havoc. They may do this lawfully if their life is threatened. They will live with that for the rest of their life, it will be their newest burden. Should they have to bare that? Regardless, I do not quite find this acceptable. Suppose the authorities may have been able to talk that person down. Suppose then, no one in fact had to die. I would say that would be a superior outcome.
Let us now look at a worst possible outcome. A law-abiding civilian is forced to make a choice. Let us say they do indeed engage a clearly hostile individual and a gun battle breaks out. Let us then suppose that the battle gets more complex as other well-intentioned individuals join in. Now, I do not believe this proves an overwhelming complication to the authorities, but it certainly would to other students. Who then is to know what exactly is going on? The unknown does nothing but incite fear and panic. The human mind is a terribly wonderful thing. It will not stop. Social media only proves a forum therefore.
I would never wish an ill result. I would not wish it on anyone regardless of who they are or what they have done. That is who I am. I will exercise my right to naïveté and claim that there is hope for everyone. I am an idealistic cynic. I am a romantic humanist. I am young. I demand the right to keep this view, at least for a little while longer.
I have one last thing to point out. I wrote a hard news story on this subject already. I have done my research and was already impartial. Herein, I will not be arbitrary. Forgive me.
Neither author of HB 750 has a major university, public or private, in the district they represent. Think about that for a second. Then explain it to me.
HB 750: Rep. Joe Driver (R-Garland) and Rep. Sid Miller (R-Stephenville) are chief authors.
The Senate bill has gathered enough authors to where that is no longer the case.
Yet, who will they answer to if I get shot? Who will they answer to if my friends are killed? Who? Who will hold them accountable for the blood on their hands?
Me—impossible, I vote in Houston. You? Will you?
I demand to know. I must know. You must know too.
By and large people care chiefly about that which they must, about that which hits closest to home. I care about this. My life will be directly affected. Those in my family younger than me will likely be affected. At the very least the potential is there. This is not so for those voting.
All we ask is for our right to choose our own destiny, to carve out our own happiness. If concealed handguns are what the students and administrators want, we will vote so. We will march up to the Capitol—some of us as few as 10 blocks—and take it. Allow us that dignity at the very least. Allow us to fall and suffer at the hubris of our own hand. Allow us to succeed and rejoice by our own wisdom as well. That is not so unreasonable, now is it?