Editor's note: This is part of a Point/Counterpoint series regarding campus carry bills HB 937 and SB 11. To read the opposing viewpoint, click here.
There will be blood on the streets and shootouts at every four-way stop. You might think that this is the rhetoric used by opponents of concealed carry on campus today, but in fact, these sorts of things were said 20 years ago when Texas’ concealed handgun law was passed. You can be the judge of whether opponents of concealed carry were correct, but as for me, I haven’t seen blood on the streets or shootouts at every four-way stop. Since then, Texans over the age of 21, without any felony conviction, can get a concealed carry permit after completing a concealed handgun class (taught by a DPS certified CHL instructor) that includes passing a written examination and demonstrating proficiency in shooting. The application fee for a concealed carry permit is $140 plus around $65 for the CHL course and around $10 for fingerprinting for acriminal background check. This is not including the cost of a gun, which is often in the hundreds of dollars. All this to say: It is time-consuming and not easy for someone to get a concealed carry permit and if SB 11, the campus carry bill recently proposed, becomes law, the number of students with concealed carry permits is unlikely to change much.
The debate over campus carry is not one where reasonable minds disagree, but one where people with irrational fear simply refuse to acknowledge the fact that campus carry won’t make campuses any less safe.
I can’t say I blame them, because it is human nature to fear uncertainty. I myself hesitated in supporting concealed carry on campus when I heard about it years ago. But after doing research and looking at the empirical evidence, I am convinced that allowing concealed carry on campus will make students safer. Virtually every peer-reviewed study on the subject, including studies by the National Academy of Sciences and the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, has concluded that there is no evidence that licensed concealed carry leads to an increase in either violent crime or gun deaths. There have been zero acts of violence or suicide attempts as result of allowing concealed carry on campuses in the eight states that allow it in the last 20 years. I wish we could say the same about our campus and other campuses in Texas.
The question we should ask is, Why should we deny the right to concealed carry on campus when it is perfectly legal to walk down the Drag or around West Campus with a concealed weapon? Students do not constantly think about the danger people with concealed weapons pose to them in public and in time I think we will all see that life will carry on as usual if SB 11 is passed. As I stated before, this bill only extends the right to those very few students who have conceal carry permits. This isn’t about you or me. This isn’t a criticism of UTPD or a secret agenda by evil politicians. This bill is about the students who were assaulted while walking home at night and those who want to keep a gun to defend themselves. These students as well as professors and other staff at UT should have the right to defend themselves, a right so fundamental that societies cannot exist without it.
As I conclude, keep in mind the famous words of FDR, that “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.” And this debate is exactly about whether we students of higher education will forsake all we have learned and give in to fear. I believe we are smarter than that and can make our opinions on issues of public policies such as this based on the facts and not the fear.
Hung is a first-year law student from Brownsville.