By James Hartley
Students voiced their opinions and concerns Dec. 3 about the campus carry law that will allow students, faculty and staff with concealed handgun licenses to bring concealed handguns on campus. Students and faculty suggested areas for secure zones on campus while others debated the law’s possible effect.
Members of the Student Government Association encouraged attendees to voice their opinions and questions about campus carry and to tell Eastfield administrators where they would like to have secure zones as allowed by the law.
Senate Bill 11, which allows concealed handgun license holders to carry handguns on campus, was passed by the Texas Legislature earlier this year and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in September.
The law will go into effect in fall of 2017 for two-year colleges and fall of 2016 for four-year colleges.
Career Services assistant Patsy Caropresi said that the law would allow for only CHL holders to bring their firearm on campus.
“I think that when we talk about campus carry, we have to remember that for anyone to get a handgun permit (CHL) there’s a process they have to go through and not just anybody can grab a gun and walk on campus,” Caropresi said. “It’s not just everybody on campus would be able to bring handguns on campus. … Once this is enacted, it may turn out that there are that many people who will bring guns on campus.”
CHL holders are required to be 21 years or older and meet federal standards for purchase of a handgun. Felony convictions and some misdemeanor convictions will make CHL applicants ineligible, as well as chemical and alcohol dependency and mental health issues.
Student Jonathan Salazar said that the restrictions don’t ease his nerves.
“We have to understand, not everybody who is going to bring a gun to college … is going to have that permit,” he said.
Student Josh Martinez said he is more concerned about those carrying guns on campus without the CHL than those who carry legally.
“The people who are going to come in here and use these concealed handguns are going to use it in the correct manner,” Martinez said. “In the same sense, if there was a shooter to come in the building, we don’t want a number of students to pull out their guns. … We come to Eastfield College to learn, and this bill should not change that.”
Texas Junior College SGA President Rameez Sohail said he is concerned that campus police will not be able to check for concealed handguns or ask for permits. He reminded attendees that though the bill has already passed, students still have a voice in the matter.
“It can be amended,” Sohail said, referring to the 2017 Texas Legislature session. “It’s not effective right now. It won’t be effective until August . … We need to think ahead.”