With mass shootings occurring on college campuses across the United States, some students feel the need to protect themselves from what could happen. The defense mechanism of choice for a particular group of students on campus, is concealed firearms.Texas State University is currently a gun-free zone, however, the Texas Penal Code in section 46.03 gives universities the choice to for the carrying of weapons by handgun license holders.
Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC) is a group out to change the gun-free status, even if it’s not going to be easy.
Michael Guzman of SCCC is an advocate for allowing Concealed Handgun License holders to carry their guns on campus.
“Our campus is completely open. Anyone can walk onto campus at any time,” said Guzman at a concealed carry debate, hosted by the Associated Student Government, “The university is not like high schools or airports with only one point of entry.”
Guzman said the University Police Department acts mostly as a reactive entity, only responding when needed with a response time of 2 to minutes. “Interaction time between a criminal and a person is 2 to 4 seconds,” said Guzman, “At any given time there are about 3 police officers on duty. That’s one for every 9,000 students.”
Many students are weary to put guns in the hands of their peers, even if they are a holder of a handgun license.
ASG Senator Tyler Ferguson said during the debate, that schools are very different from places that allow the carrying of concealed weapons: like shopping malls, movie theaters, and grocery stores. “A university is supposed to be a safe place to share controversial ideas,” said Ferguson, “If you knew the person you were debating might be carrying a gun, you’d be more cautious with your words.”
Many say the question is, from a philosophical standpoint, do students feel the need to carry a weapon or do they want to be able to carry a weapon? Guzman said it is about neither. “It’s about self defense. It is about those who cannot protect themselves in any other way,” said Guzman.
Ferguson said it is not about need, because there is a low crime rate on campus and argues there are other viable ways to defend yourself, like pepper spray or a taser. “Guns should be an absolute last resort for protection.”
Officer Otto Glenewinkel of the UPD Community Awareness and Resource Center agrees putting the guns in the hands of individuals, even licensed gun holders, could potentially pose a threat to others in emergency situations.
“In an active shooter situation, all enforcement is trained the same way, and that is to neutralize the threat,” said Glenewinkel, “Anyone holding a gun is considered a threat and will be neutralized.”
Although a CHL holder has never been convicted of murder in the state of Texas, that does not mean accidents or other crimes have not been committed and attempted by holders of these licenses. “No one has been convicted of capital murder. That doesn’t mean one has been arrested or tried,” added Glenewinkel, “People get their licenses revoked all the time for their actions while carrying a weapon.”
Ferguson argues if the want to carry a concealed weapon is about safety, there is no need on the Texas State campus. “If nothing is happening, why change the policy? Gun accidents happen all the time- including to the vice president [Cheney]. They can certainly happen to us,” said Ferguson.
Still, others think the want to keep concealed weapons banned from campus is based on fear not logic. “You are your first line of defense. If you have to make a decision right here, right now to save your life, are you going to rely on yourself, or wait on someone else?” argued Guzman.
If the group is successful in changing the concealed handgun law, only CHL holders would be allowed to legally carry a weapon on campus. Receiving a CHL is a lengthy process and has strict requirements, including being over the age of 21. The age requirement alone would restrict the majority of university students applying for a license.
Guzman has spoken with the university administration, but said they are trying to hide behind a clause in the Board of Regents Rules, even though it contradicts the state law. “There is a specific clause in state law which gives each individual university the authority to choose to allow CHL holders to carry on campus. An agency of the state cannot act contrary to state law,” said Guzman.
The Associated Student Government invited Texas State University President Denise Trauth to the debate, but she declined.
Michael Guzman is seeking an opinion from the Attorney General, which could take months.
For a list of full CHL requirements and answers to other questions regarding firearms, visit http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/administration/crime_records/chl/faq.htm
By Amanda OskeyEmail | Print