Fewer than 30 people attend student-hosted campus carry forum

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Students listen to a speaker at a campus carry forum held in the SAC on Tuesday evening. Attendance at the forum was significantly lower than the previous two.
Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Attendance at the latest campus carry forum Tuesday, hosted by the three legislative student organizations, had an attendance of fewer than 30 people.

This forum was the third total forum — the second this week — at UT about the campus carry legislation but the first hosted by Student Government, Senate of College Councils and Graduate Student Assembly. The University estimated that 250 people attended the first forum, which was held Sept. 30, and 150 attended the second, which was held Oct. 5.

SG Vice President Rohit Mandalapu said a reported threat to Austin-area schools Monday, deemed not credible by UTPD, might have contributed to the size of the crowd. The forum was quickly put together for Safety Week, which might have been one of several reasons for the low attendance, Mandalapu said.

“I think it was just a rushed event, because we wanted to hear everyone out within Safety Week, but people were probably busy and/or still a bit worried from the scare,” Mandalapu said. “It definitely has nothing to do with student’s overall views on discussing campus carry as seen from how big the task force forums are.”

At the forum, Steve Goode, UT law professor and chair of the working group, said he has seen progress in the public’s understanding of the law.

“I think the message that it is not an open carry law is starting to come through … so to that extent, I think people are starting to understand what the law does and what it doesn’t do,” Goode said. “There is still — on all sides of this issue — a great deal of emotion, and that’s quite understandable. This is a big issue.”

Chaz Aniram, an international nutrition senior who spoke at the forum, said she was looking forward to hearing insight on other students’ opinions, but said she was disappointed at the lack of attendance.

“I finally had a window where I could attend and listen to what I thought would be a majority of perspectives, but I guess I just listened to a few perspectives,” Aniram said. “I feel like we aren’t a student body of well-regulated militia, so we should not be carrying guns, and I would have liked to see more students give out their opinion on the matter.”

Aniram found out about the event through a Facebook group and said she thinks so few people showed up because the of a lack of publicity.

Neuroscience senior Michael Brown said he attended the previous two forums and thinks the regulation of guns is useless in a world where technology could make it easier for people to have access to guns. Brown said he supports the legislation because he thinks it will serve as a deterrent.

“I think that the regulation is going to be fruitless — it’s going to be outmoded by technology,” Brown said. “In the future, you’ll be able to just press a button and a gun will be made before your eyes in a matter of hours or less. I would like to be able to protect myself from these people who can make guns at the click of a button.”