If the recent shootings on college campuses this past year hasn’t already set everyone on edge, Texas State legislators passed two laws in the 84th Regular Legislative Session that allow citizens to carry concealed handguns on university campuses.
Senate Bill 11, effective Aug. 1, “Authorizes a license holder to carry a concealed handgun on or about the license holder’s person while the license holder is on the campus of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education in this state.”
Public universities across the state have been scrambling since January to create policies for safety and establishing prohibited areas on campus where students, faculty, and staff will not be able to carry their weapons. Lt. J. Niederhaus of TWU DPS stated: “We’re not even able to opt out of it like the private universities are. Most of the private universities, I think, say that they’re not going to allow it. But being a state facility, we have to go with it.” According to the Texas Tribune, all private universities in the state of Texas have chosen to opt out except for Amberton University in Garland, TX.
With all the signage and pamphlets that have had to be created to inform students of safety procedures and the law, Sgt. D. Bundick and Lt. J. Niederhaus say that the state of Texas will not be providing any funding to public aid with these changes.
At each orientation this summer, parents were welcomed to participate in an open panel where TWU DPS answered questions regarding our policy on Campus Carry. Lt. J. Niederhaus shared: “We’ve had a lot of questions about it, getting it confused with open carry. People are really worried…like it’s going to be the old west with people just walking around with guns all the time. No, if you see the gun, then that’s a problem because you’re not supposed to see them at all.” Students are required to report to TWU DPS immediately if they see anybody with their handgun on campus.
Despite all the precautions that universities are taking to establish an atmosphere of professionalism and safety, students are still wary about the prospect of having handguns permitted on campus at all. University of Texas in Austin students protested by distributing sex toys to students to carry to class using the slogan “Cocks Not Glocks.” The official Facebook shared their plan: “Starting on the first day of Long Session classes on August 24, 2016, we are strapping gigantic swinging dildos to our backpacks in protest of campus carry.”
When asked how they felt about Campus Carry at TWU, several students responded by implying that they feared the fact that their peers could carry a weapon to class. Taylor Wooten, a first-year Nursing student shared: “I disagree with it…It’s dangerous. Even if they don’t have ill intentions, someone else may have ill intentions and it’s too easy for the weapon to go off. It’s unsafe, in my opinion…more people are going to be scared and want to have one…Just more guns period.”
Kristin, a PhD student of Psychology, expressed a fear based on her knowledge of historical incidences: “I actually work, kind of as a GA, and so I teach classes and I feel unsafe, honestly, with the idea of people on campus having any kind of weapons. Historically, most of the campus shootings have been perpetrated by students. So I’m against anyone carrying, even faculty. Given psychological research, and people having access to weapons or even having weapons present, people are more likely to act out violently or aggressively than they would otherwise.”
Other students, like Kinesiology sophomore David Choice, feel like the state can’t take away a constitutional right without consequence: “Do I agree with it? No. Just because, you know, we’re kids. But because of the way the world is… you can’t say no to them.”
Student Regent Monica Mathis assures her peers that all sides have been considered and evaluated with the best policies being developed for our campus: “No one can predict the intentions of every person in every situation, but I am confident in the work that Chief Pauley, her staff, and the TWU administrators are doing to keep our campus safe.” Mathis encourages students, faculty and staff to be aware of state politics and current events, and to vote in the elections if they feel a change is needed.
Active shooter training can be provided by TWU DPS on request. TWU’s policy for Campus Carry is available here: http://www.twu.edu/dps/campus-carry.asp