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Guns on College Campuses

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

I’m not sure how many of you have heard about a bill now being considered in the Texas Legislature?  The bill would allow students to carry a concealed handgun on campus and remove “premises of higher education” as gun-free zones. I must say, what is the sponsor of this bill thinking?  Senator Jeff Wentworth who is sponsoring the bill states, “I just don’t want to see a repeat in Texas of what happened at Virginia Tech”.

I am more concerned about MORE violence, rather than less, if students are allowed to bring handguns to campus.  It is almost like a return to the “wild west” rather than to the reality of having campuses with as many as 50,000 “young adults” who will not be allowed to bring guns to class.

I not only care for many young adults of this age group, but also have a college student myself. As a parent and pediatrician I think that this bill may lead to more violence and arbitrary shootings than we have unfortunately already seen.

Just last year, a University of Texas-Austin student carrying an AK-47 assault weapon ran across campus shooting in the air before running into a building and taking his own life.  The UT campus police responded swiftly and quickly secured the campus. The University of Texas used email and other social media to notify all students to remain in their dorms or in their classrooms.

What if there had been many gun wielding students who responded to the situation with their own guns, how would the police even know who was “the good guy” vs. the “bad guy”.  It would seem to me that we need to allow the trained police and campus security as well as administrators to handle these situations, rather than gun-wielding students.  There doesn’t seem to be a good reason to allow students to carry a handgun. Maybe a professor or another person of authority, that might be another conversation.

After asking a few students myself, the overall consensus was that they, the students, opposed the bill. This seemed to be true even among those who were hunters. They had many concerns about having their peers armed with handguns. They are well aware of the many stressors on a college campus.

Having a handgun “handy” might lead to impulsive shootings when a verbal exchange or even fist fight had been the previous means of resolving an argument.   The mental health of college students is one of the biggest concerns on every college campus these days.  A vast proportion of money allocated for “health care” in college is spent on mental health issues as educators become more aware of the frequency of these issues.

As colleges deal with students with depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug issues, addictions and anger management, the idea of allowing handguns on any college campus seems to be unnecessary and actually scary.

I realize that there are strict rules for obtaining a handgun license, just as there are for getting a driver’s license. Despite the laws for obtaining a driver’s license we continue to see this same age group have high vehicular accident rates. They make impulsive decisions and drink and drive, or don’t wear a seat belt, or use drugs and get behind the wheel of the car.

The same might hold true for handgun possession, when alcohol, drugs and sleeplessness impair judgment.  Even the thought of a handgun going off accidently could cause harm to the innocent classmates.

I agree with Senator Wentworth, I do not want to see another tragic shooting on any school premises. But to think that arming students with concealed hand guns for protection seems like a preposterous means of protecting our schools. More security, YES, more counseling and mental health awareness, YES, detailed plans to handle a shooting or hostage situation, YES   but guns on a college campus….. I vote NO!

What do you think? Do you think college students hould be alowed to carry a gun on campus? I would love your feedback.

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2 Responses to “Guns on College Campuses”

  1. Terry Messer says:

    Are you aware of the requirements to obtain a CHL license? You must be 21 to begin with. How many college “young adults” are 21? Of those, how many have the desire to go through the training to get the license? As far as the drinking or drug use while carrying, Texas has a 0 tolerance. If an office believes you appear to be under the influence, you will have the license revoked. We don’t have a problem giving an immature 18 year old a machine gun in the armed forces and we know there is no stress there.

    My daughter spent 5 years at college getting her masters. All she could carry was a college issued “rape whistle” and hope the campus police were near by. My now son-in-law rides the DART from Plano to Ft Worth 4 hr a day going to class to get his masters. He deals with beggars, dope smokers and the such. He could carry on the train but is not allowed on campus.

    In the V-Tech and other shootings, did the campus or local police prevent mass killings? The Supreme Court has decided that the police are not responsible for preventing violence. If you were going to go on a killing spree, would you go where no one would shoot back at you or would you go to a gun free zone? Every time YOU go to a gun free zone (hospital, school. etc.), just remember, the few cops or security guards are the only ones protecting YOU from a crazy loon with a knife or gun.

    Are you aware a 21 year old with a CHL can get into the Texas Capitol building carrying a gun quicker than someone without? If you have a CHL, you present it to the officer, he runs it on his computer, gives it back to you and you go on in. Everyone else must go through a metal detector.

    I would not have a problem with requiring a class that included additional training, conflict resolution and such before being allowed to carry on campus.

    What do you think? I would like your reply.

  2. Mikey says:

    Heard all the “wild west” concerns for 20 years now. It hasn’t happened, and it won’t happen. No one is suggesting we give guns to every 18 year old on campus. You have to be 21 with NO criminal record. You may not have ANY alcohol in your system or you risk prison.

    We’re now talking most students. This is about teachers,staff, administrators,, and other law abiding adults who shouldn’t have to give up their Constitutional right to self-preservation just because they cross some imaginary boundry.

    As a father I can completely understand your concerns. But the facts and the history suggest that you have nothing to fear from those of us who choose to carry. Believe me, the bad guys don’t really care about gun-free laws. They are quite happy knowing that no one can resist their violence.

    As a teacher, I don’t think that it should be my legal duty to die just because an invisible boundry says I can’t protect myself, my family, my students, or my co-workers. And as a veteran, I can tell you from experience that civilians can be even safer to bystanders than the police. We are often much better trained, and we have much more to lose in case of mishap.

    So if you choose to not carry, that’s great! But please don’t take away my freedo. To choose how best to protect myself and my family.

    You sound like a great mom, by the way! Good luck to your son on his classes and his future!

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