The state of Texas is pushing a proposal to make it legal for students and staff to carry firearms on campus. The bill was prompted after a UT student shot himself to death in a college library with an assault rifle in September. He had fired shots on campus while walking from a bus stop to the library.
Texas State Rep. David Simpson, who introduced the bill, said, “If he had had a big gun to shoot people, I would hope … a (concealed handgun license) holder would have been able to stop him from turning it into a Virginia Tech-style tragedy,” referring to the 2007 campus shooting incident that left 33 dead.
Lea Marie and Tim Tabor, FMCC students, agreed that the idea of defending against gun crime by allowing guns on campus may be constructive but very risky. The aspect that not everyone should be allowed to carry a weapon was mentioned. “Who is to decide who can and cannot carry a gun” says Tabor.
FM’s Mark Pierce, Department of Public Safety director, said, “Allowing a student the right to carry a gun on campus will not stop tragedy; it will only increase the level of violence and perhaps increase the level of injured people due to the lack of training.
“The only thing that helps prevent tragic events are prevention services such as established police and health services with established procedures to identify potential threats or disturbing behaviors that often predicate a tragic incident. Although we will never truly stop a person who is mentally ill on carrying out an act of extreme violence, we can learn the warning signs and act upon them while the behavior is manageable.”
Tomass Kzilovs, a criminal justice major from Russia at FM, stated that the presence of guns on campus will bring a sense of security to students and staff alike but people would need to be responsible.
FM Associate Professor Robert Jones, foreign languages, remains neutral on the subject, but stated, if the law was passed in the area he personally would not carry any weapons and leans towards the fact that allowing guns may encourage violence.
According to a recent issue of the Austin Statesman, a bill in the Texas Legislature will allow firearms on the state’s public university campuses. The paper said the bill has a chance to pass this year and more than half of the state’s representatives have also thrown their support behind campus carry bills.
The paper also reported that campus mental health professionals fear guns on campus would lead to an increase in suicides — the second leading cause of death among college students. Campus police are worried about distinguishing between ‘the bad actor’ and people defending themselves when both have drawn guns. And with combustible materials present in science labs and hospitals across campuses, some have expressed concern that firing a gun in certain places ‘may have consequences well beyond what one may expect in other environments.
UT-Austin’s student government has passed resolutions the last two years against allowing guns on campus.
Additional reporting by FM’s Tim Shaut.