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Guns may soon be legal on Texas campuses

By Savannah Christian & Nick Bailey
On March 1, 2011


University campuses across the state of Texas may be experiencing a change in social climate as Texas prepares to pull the trigger on legislation passing a law giving students and professors the option to carry licensed handguns into campus buildings. This measure of legislation would give thousands of students the opportunity to wield firearms during their everyday college routine.

"It's strictly a matter of self-defense," state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio said. "I don't ever want to see repeated on a Texas college campus what happened at Virginia Tech, where some deranged, suicidal madman goes into a building and is able to pick off totally defenseless kids like sitting ducks."

Shootings on college campuses have happened in the past. One of the most notable examples occurred in 1966, when Charles Whitman shot and killed 16 people and wounded dozens from the top of the administration tower at the University of Texas with an assault rifle.

"I really think we are looking at something passing," A&M-Commerce UPD Crime Information Officer Jason Bone said.  "The concern is not so much with the legislation in general passing, but the difference in the two bills."

There is a House and a Senate bill, both of which deal with handgun carry on college campuses, but under different stipulations.

"The House bill states that the carrier of the weapon must have a Texas concealed handgun license, and the Senate bill allows any handgun license from any state," Bone said.  "This is a concern because different states have different training in the process of getting a handgun license."

Despite the qualifications necessary to obtain a Texas concealed handgun license, including age requirements, a back ground check, a handgun course and an approval of shooting skills, sophomore Jarrod Johnson does not think that either bill is a safe choice.

"I hate it," Johnson said. "I think it's going to cause a lot of problems. Violence rates will go up and people won't have any fear of bringing a gun with them anywhere because they won't receive any punishment. Not to mention a lot of people will abuse this law as well."

Similar bills have been rejected in 23 states across America, but in Texas the situation seems to be different with more than half of the Texas House of Representatives supporting the legislation. Meanwhile, students all over the state are voicing their opinions on the matter, both for and against the bill.

"I think it's very disturbing news," art major Demilola Agoro said. "With the recent history of gun violence in different colleges in America, its scary. With all the gun violence, people coming and shooting you would think they would prohibit guns, but to make a law? That could mean a little misunderstanding can turn into a deadly shootout."

Student Body President Taylor Fore also expressed negative thoughts on the bill.

"I don't think allowing any concealed handgun on campus is conducive to the learning environment," he said.  "As a university we are expected to have a sense of safety in our classrooms and I do not think allowing handgun carry will promote a safe environment for all faculty and students."

Firearms laws have been passed in other states giving colleges the option to allow handguns, but Utah is the only other state to pass such a broad law. Some students see this as a move in the right direction for Texas universities.

"I stand behind this bill," freshman Alexander Patterson said. "The people that would make this law a problem already have their guns here. If they want to use [a gun] then they're going to. This bill would just give normal students the ability to carry a gun so they can protect themselves from the ones that go wild. If most of the people opposing this bill knew much about the gun laws in Texas then they would know that this really isn't as bad as their friends would have them believe. Even with this law, an individual would have to have a concealed handgun license, which means that they have to be over the age of 21, but I do wonder how this will affect the suicide rate."

Bone made the same point about the age qualifications for a handgun license and said that most of the students at the university wouldn't be able to have a gun anyway.

"Technically, people can already have a gun on campus just not inside buildings, so really this law will not change as much as some think," Bone said.  "The fact of the matter is I see both sides of the issue.  Both have validity, but laws only affect law-abiding citizens."

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