Texas has always had a reputation as a gun-loving, gun-toting state, but recent legislation that is up for debate might bring it to a school near you.
The Texas Senate recently approved Senate Bill 11, which allows students to openly carry their firearms on campus, in class and in their dormitories too.
The bill, which will need approval in the House before it is sent to the governor’s desk, will only apply to public universities, however. Private universities can still opt to ban firearms, and the ruling doesn’t apply to high schools, middle schools or elementary schools.
There is also a bill in the House that passed the committee vote on March 31 and has been sent to the Senate.
The bills differ slightly, but the gist of the legislation is the same.
Proponents of the bill say the law is intended to lower crime while extending the Second Amendment at the same time.
“The only people not carrying guns on college campuses now are the people that abide by the law,” said State Representative Joe Driver, a Republican from Garland who introduced a similar bill to the House. “Criminals know campuses are a gun-free zone.”
Those in favor of the bill cite cases like the massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007 that left 32 victims dead, or Northern Illinois University, where a similar incident ended with five casualties.
What the proponents for this bill do not understand, however, is active shooters like the ones mentioned above are not rational to begin with. Guns would not deter them from committing tragic acts.
If anything, if a campus is on lockdown or a similarly stressful situation, a student with a handgun could easily confuse another student with a handgun to be a threat, causing chaos that would result in only more tragedy.
Aside from that, several universities have already spoken out against the proposed legislation. Several professors have stated they would not be comfortable in an environment where students have their weapons in class with them.
One professor has even told legislators that they would change the way they grade in fear of violent retaliation, according to Democratic State Representative Lon Burnam from Fort Worth.
The bill is meant only for those who are 21 and older with a proper license to handle firearms, but how will campus law enforcement know who has a license and who doesn’t?
Would they have to stop students every time they see he/she is carrying a gun just to insure they are properly licensed to do so?
In the front page story this week, University Police Chief Felipe Garza said the bill is unnecessary, because violent crime rarely happens on campus.
The majority of the crimes committed on campus deal with underage drinking, drug possession or theft.
Students possessing guns won’t do anything to help that.
If anything, it may open the door for the theft of firearms the same way students have their iPads and laptops stolen from their dorm rooms.
The sentiment of the legislation is clear: the Republican lawmakers who support these bills only want students to feel protected. The irony is however, this could lead to more devastation and more tragedy.
At the request of the leading universities of the states and their student bodies, this legislation shouldn’t go into effect. If it does, the consequences could be irreparable.