Last week the Texas A&M University System released its proposal to initiate concealed carry in August. It’s about as eager to allow guns as you’d expect, but A&M is only one of the schools going through the process of deciding how to comply with Senate Bill 11.
When the Texas legislature passed SB 11 it required that public universities allow concealed carry permit holders to bring guns on campus, but it left details up to individual schools. So far, six schools have had proposals approved by their respective boards of regents.
Among these, Stephen F. Austin State provides the most latitude for concealed carry, allowing guns everywhere except sporting events with only a few minor restrictions for dorms. A&M’s plan includes a few more caveats. For one, while guns will be allowed in faculty offices, if the employee can demonstrate that a licensed carrier presents a significant risk of substantial harm “due to negligent discharge of the handgun,” an exception can be made for that office. However, the vague language of the policy will make it difficult for professors to keep guns out of their offices, demonstrating little concern for their personal safety.
The University of Texas’s policy is comparatively more restrictive. At UT, guns will not be allowed in dorms and faculty members in single occupancy offices have the right to ban carrying in that location. If A&M has fully embraced the spirit of the law, then UT only conceded to follow it to the letter.
When the UT recommendations came out, there was heavy pushback from numerous interest groups. Most notably, students have planned protests with sex toys and the Dean of the School of Architecture has resigned. At A&M, however, there is heavy support for SB 11.
David Mercer, a junior at A&M and member of the Corps of Cadets, is against campus carry.
“I’m probably of the minority, this is probably not what most Aggies think,” Mercer said. Despite being a gun owner, Mercer still thinks letting students carry guns is a bad idea because even required training for concealed carry isn’t enough to get someone ready for an active shooter situation.
“With the way concealed carry works now, I don’t necessarily feel safe,” Mercer said. “Concealed carry classes teach people how to properly use their firearm in self-defense, but it boils down to how well you can shoot at targets at a certain distance.”
Mercer also sees a distinction between concealed carry in public spaces and in dorms. Even the Corps doesn’t allow its members to have guns in their dorms. “I can tell you right now that the Corps of Cadets policy is no weapons, mock weapons or live ammo in the dorms,” he said.
Mercer is in the minority at A&M, one of the few voices of reason in a hailstorm of radical views. Hopefully in the end, voices like his will be heard, rather than getting blown away with the wind.
MacLean is a journalism freshman from Austin. Follow her on Twitter @maclean_josie.