In a misguided attempt to increase safety in Texas colleges, Republican State Sen. Brian Birdwell has authored Senate Bill 11 — a bill that would allow concealed carry of weapons on public campuses — and sponsored Senate Bill 17 — a bill that would allow open carry of holstered handguns by licensed holders. After heated debate, both bills were approved 7-2 for consideration by the full Senate.
This is not the first time a bill promoting guns on campus has passed through a Texas house subcommittee. As recently as April 2013, the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Service approved a similar bill by a 7-1 vote, but it was ultimately shot down.
While the bills would allow private universities to opt out, public colleges such as Eastfield would have no say.
We understand Sen. Birdwell’s concerns, but guns on campus can only create more trouble.
In an emergency situation, it is best to have trained professionals such as the police respond. We have no doubt that many, if not most, gun owners are responsible with their weapons, but in the heat of a school shooting, most would not have the psychological training to handle the situation safely and effectively.
This can also create scenarios where innocent people can be mistakenly shot. If a shooter opens fire and another gun owner attempts to stop them, they can easily be mistaken for the aggressor. Consider the 2011 assassination attempt on Arizona politician Gabrielle Giffords. She was among the 13 injured when a man opened fire on a crowd outside a supermarket, killing six. When a survivor pulled a gun on the shooter, he narrowly avoided getting shot by another gun owner in the chaos. The shooter was subdued by a retired Army colonel who chose not to draw his own weapon.
Additionally, from a practical standpoint, allowing guns on campus would cost more money. Both city and campus police would need to pull in more funding for increased police presence and psychological training.
Since state law does not allow citizens under 21 to carry handguns, most four-year schools would not have very many carriers on campus. In two-year schools where the age of the average student is higher, however, we could potentially have hundreds, if not thousands of unnecessary guns among us.
Whether or not we should have the right to own guns is a debate for another day, but we do not need them in a stressful college environment.