By Tina DivaraTexas legislation may soon pass a bill that would allow licensed, concealed handgun carriers to bring their guns onto college and university campuses.
Some people may see this as a mistake that would allow guns to overrun campus grounds, that just about everyone would be ‘trigger happy.’ That is simply not true. Currently, the state allows students to carry a concealed weapon in their vehicle, but are prohibited from carrying it onto school grounds. If passed, the new bill would change the state law to allow licensed holders to carry concealed weapons from their vehicle onto campus.
Students who are licensed already carry their concealed handguns to the grocery store, movies, parks and other public places that have no restrictions on concealed weapons. This piece of legislation is coming about in light of the shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University. In both cases, armed men walked into a classroom of unsuspecting, unarmed students and began shooting at will. More than 30 students/faculty were killed at Virginia Tech and six were killed at NIU. This bill is written to prevent similar situations from happening at Texas colleges and universities by allowing students the right to bring their handguns to class.
Many worry that if this bill passes all students will be carrying handguns to class, and this is not true. Texas has strict regulations on who can and cannot carry concealed weapons. First, before a person can apply, they have to be 21 years old. That means that most freshmen, sophomore and junior level students cannot apply. Teachers, staff and senior level students would be able to apply for the license. Then the individual must pass a complete background check, which means no criminal record, and no history of mental illness. A person who has defaulted on student or government loans is also ineligible to apply.
If the person passes all the requirements to apply, then they have to attend a class in which both a written and shooting test must be passed, be finger printed, and pay a fee. The normal wait time is 60-180 days depending on if there are any problems but with an increase in the number of people applying for a license it could be even longer.
There are some who will argue that these requirements are not enough, and they may be right. But look at the students and staff that you see on campus everyday. They are here because they want to learn and better their chances in the real world. They have the dedication to educate themselves.
The same applies to licensed concealed handgun owners. They are aware of what is right and wrong, they know gun safety for themselves and others around them and have an understanding of what would happen if they become negligent in their responsibilities as licensed holders. They also understand that if an armed man was to walk into class and start picking off students one-by-one, they have the chance not only to save themselves but their classmates.
On April 14, at the University of Houston, a male student was walking to his car when he was kidnapped, forced to drive to multiple ATMs to make withdrawals and then was released. What if he had a gun? Would the same thing have happened?
There are those who will never own a gun, those who believe this law would bring more violence on campus and those who think that anyone who applies will automatically get a license to carry a concealed handgun. The truth is not everyone will apply and not everyone will be approved.
Imagine you are sitting in your classroom listening to a lecture taking notes and then in walks what appears to be a student. He casually closes the door behind him and the pulls out a gun. He blocks the only exit, and there is no safe place to hide. What option do you want to have – to lie defenselessly on the ground and hope you are not shot or would you want to fight back and not become another school shooting statistic.