Tuesday morning, this country experienced yet another school shooting when a 15-year-old took a gun into Reynolds High School in Oregon and opened fire, killing one student and injuring a teacher before turning the gun on himself. At one point, an assistant principal reportedly told students, “This is not a drill.”
It seems like it never is anymore. Just last week, there was another shooting, which local media outlets reported as an isolated incident, at Fort Hood. The media seems to spend so much time highlighting incidents like these, but news outlets routinely fail to mention a key factor of such shootings, namely that they often occur in gun-free zones — places like Reynolds High School, Fort Hood and even UT.
It is apparent that gun-free zones do not work to effectively curb gun violence. If you do not believe me, then take a look at the Virginia Tech massacre, the two Fort Hood mass shootings, the recent shooting at Seattle Pacific University, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the shooting in the Perry-Castaneda Library and many others. They each took place in a gun-free zone. The reality is that gun-free zones only do one thing: They disarm law-abiding citizens, specifically concealed handgun license holders. As of Dec. 31, 2013, there were 708,048 active Texas concealed handgun license holders. The charts below show the conviction rates of CHL holders compared to the rest of the state between 2008-2012. (Note: The Texas Department of Public Safety waits two years to report its data, so we do not yet have data for 2013.)
Now let’s compare CHL holders to those without permits as it pertains specifically to murder and manslaughter convictions over this same time span. One would assume, since CHL holders are potentially carrying a firearm daily, that their conviction rates would be astronomically higher. The data below will prove otherwise.
Currently, those legally allowed to own a firearm are allowed to keep that weapon locked in their car while on campus. While CHL holders cannot carry on campus, they can, legally, upon leaving campus. For example, a CHL holder can legally walk along the Drag just feet from campus, as long as they do not wander across the street onto University property. This law implies that somehow CHL holders are inherently more dangerous once setting foot on campus.
Current state Sen. and Republican nominee for lieutenant governor Dan Patrick, R-Houston, was a joint author of a campus carry bill which failed to pass last legislative session. Patrick intends to continue working to pass campus carry if elected as lieutenant governor. Also, state Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, has confirmed via phone that he plans to author another campus carry bill when the Legislature reconvenes in January. But other legislators such as state Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, intend to fight any bills of the sort. Naishtat represents the district where UT is located and says, “As long as the UT administration, along with the UT and Austin police departments, maintain their outspoken opposition to concealed carry on campus, I will unhesitatingly continue to follow their lead.”
Doubts about campus carry are valid considering firearms are nearly always portrayed as being used only by “bad guys” and cops in movies. However, let’s take a look in our own backyard. Many of us are aware there was a shooting in West Campus in late April, at a construction site near the intersection of Rio Grande Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. After having been fired from the worksite, a former employee returned to the site with a gun and began firing shots at the worksite foreman. Luckily for the foreman, who has a CHL, this was not a gun-free zone. He was able to draw his handgun and return fire at the aggressor, thus saving his life when seconds counted. There was simply not enough time to call 911 to wait minutes for a response. If campus carry were allowed, CHL holders would be able to help prevent a gunman from taking innocent lives on campus just as one did in this incident.
When seconds count, the police are minutes away. This is just a stark reality. In 2010, after a gunman opened fire in the Perry-Castaneda Library, the University and UTPD conducted an After Action review of the event. This report states that it took the first UTPD officer three minutes to arrive at the library once the department was first notified of a gunman who was carrying an AK-47, which is capable of firing approximately 600 rounds per minute. Additionally, it took more than 13 minutes before the campus sirens and loudspeaker sounded directing faculty, staff, and students into buildings for campus lockdown. By this time, the lone gunman had already committed suicide and, thankfully, had not injured anyone else.
Most importantly, in the conclusion of this report it was admitted, “that this individual could have hurt and most likely killed many individuals if he had chosen to do so.” Let that sink in for a moment and realize that the University and UTPD admit and are fully aware they cannot stop an active shooter without many potential fatalities first. We need campus carry to stop threats within seconds, not minutes, just like in the recent West Campus shooting. After all, this is not a drill.
Daywalt is a government senior from Killeen. Follow him on Twitter @JohnDaywalt.
Infographics by Omar Longoria