Solutions to Campus Carry
In August 2016, a bill will become law which legalizes concealed carry on college campuses in Texas. It was signed into law by Governor Abbott who argued that the Texas Legislature is protecting its citizens’ Second Amendment rights.
There has been a wide variety of responses to this new law. Supporters say that it will give students the opportunity to defend themselves if an intruder comes on campus. They also believe that it is a constitutional right to bear arms wherever they go. However, many others strongly disagree.
They believe that this piece of legislation is a terrible idea. They believe it will make campuses unsafe and will result in more casualties.
Due to these fears, and many others, almost every university president in Texas signed a petition to repeal this piece of legislation. They all claimed that college campuses were not the place for guns.
Private colleges have the option to opt out of the law. Currently, almost every private school has chosen that path. Here is a link to a website that provides each private university’s decision and the reasoning behind their decision: http://apps.texastribune.org/private-university-campus-carry/.
On the federal level, Texas is only one of eight states that have made concealed guns on campus legal by state law. This graph shows how many states have campus carry by state law, how many states allow each university to decide, and how many states ban it. http://www.comedsoc.org/images/GunCarrySchoolCampusesByState.jpg
Regardless of opinions and beliefs, this new law will take effect in Texas beginning in August 2016.
So how can we make sure that everyone, even those who are greatly opposed, feel comfortable?
One option is implementing a rule that all concealed license carriers must register their weapon just as they would register their car. This would give campus authorities an overview of where the weapons are and who has them.
By having an idea of who is carrying concealed on campus and how many weapons there are, staff and faculty can be prepared. Prior to the start of class, they can make the decision of whether or not they will carry, depending on how many of their students in their classrooms are carrying as well.
Now, many are opposed to this suggestion because they believe that it is discrediting their amendment rights of private property. However, no one has a problem with registering cars with the school. Aren’t cars private property? How is registering a car and a concealed handgun different? Both can be used as weapons and both can be deadly.
Thus, if we are required to register our cars with the school, we should be required to also register our handguns.
Another option is to increase security around campus. We can install cameras, hire more officers, and increase the number of lights that surround our campuses. This will help decrease the number of people who will abuse this law due to the fear of being caught.
Many will argue that there is not enough funding in university budgets for these increases in security. One article claims that financial support for higher education has decreased and many schools have received cuts.
Is our safety not important enough? Are we not willing to shift money around so that we can make certain that our students feel safe on campus, especially with a possible increase of guns on campus?
Jeffrey Ian Ross, Ph.D., understands that an increase of security adds cost, but argues that it is well worth the investment. He claims, “The payoff is in the lives saved and the families left intact, not destroyed by the trauma of another mass murder” (Ross 2015). Yes, it may be an inconvenience to university budget committees to find money in order to implement more security. However, this small inconvenience will help save lives.
One last option is to make it easier for students, staff, and faculty to escape in the event of a shooter. This will help decrease casualties and injuries, and help protect those who choose not to carry on campus.
Many university classrooms do not have doors that can be locked from the inside, making them a trap for victims. Individuals have no place to run or hide, no place to take refuge. Thus, every door should be able to be locked from the inside.
Also, a lockdown siren should be accessible across campus. Each building and classroom should be equipped with a button that has the ability to alert the entire campus in the case of an active shooter, thus giving people the opportunity to either escape or seek shelter. This siren will increase awareness, taking away an intruder’s weapon of surprise. If each student is aware, hidden, and prepared, any possible damage is dramatically decreased.
Finally, universities need to provide gun safety and awareness meetings so that licensed carriers and those who choose not to carry are on the same page about expectations and knowledge of what to do in the event of an intruder. These meetings will also provide students, faculty, and staff to ask questions and give suggestions on how to make their campuses safer.
Texas Woman’s University, for example, has held several of these meetings in order to allow their students, faculty, and staff to have a voice as they finalize their gun policy. In March 2016, three-hundred individuals met on the TWU campus, were educated about the proposed policy, and had the opportunity to ask questions and give their input.
Sanlyn Ferguson, a Student Government Association representative gave her opinion on such meetings. She stated, “I think these forums are so great because we get to hear from different people around campus about the specifics and the statistics. I think that’s something that really opened my eyes and calmed me down about some of the questions I had” (Duncan 2016).
Clearly, these meetings calm fears and increase awareness across campus and throughout the community.
Campus carry is a reality that will take effect in August 2016. Regardless of our opinions on this new law, we have the responsibility to make our college campuses as safe as possible. Either we prepare our campuses through forums and take measures to increase safety, or we suffer the consequences. It’s your choice.
Duncan, Jenna. “TWU Campus Carry Talks Continue.” Denton News, Sports, Entertainment, Business and Weather. N.p., 30 Mar. 2016. Web. 7 May 2016.
Mitchell, Michael. “Years of Cuts Threaten to Put College Out of Reach for More Students.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. N.p., 13 May 2015. Web. 5 May 2016.
Ross, Jeffrey Ian. “Colleges Need to Install Security Systems to Prevent Mass Shootings (essay) | Inside Higher Ed.” Colleges Need to Install Security Systems to Prevent Mass Shootings (essay). N.p., 12 Oct. 2015. Web. 6 May 2016.
Concealed Guns On Campus. N.d. Los Angeles Times. By Molly Hennessy-Fiske. Web.