Minority voters oppose campus carry, poll finds

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

A majority of black and Latino voters in Texas do not support campus carry, according to a recent poll released by the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis. 

According to the poll, 79 percent of black voters, 66 percent of Latino voters and 47 percent of white voters do not support Senate Bill 11, the campus carry law which was signed into law last summer and will take effect Aug. 1, 2016. The law allows licensed weapon holders 21 and older to carry concealed handguns on college campuses with some restrictions.

Kevin Cokley, the institute’s director, said the poll cannot definitively explain why minority voters do not support campus carry. He said the poll, which oversampled black voters, sought to understand what minorities, especially black voters, thought about particular statewide issues.

“When you look at other polling that takes place, you don’t often see the results that [are] aggregated by race or ethnicity,” Cokley said. “We wanted to make sure that this polling initiative really clearly and accurately captured the sentiment and perspective of black voters.” 

The poll also found that 82 percent of black voters and 55 percent of Latino voters believed officer-involved shootings reflected institutional racism. Education freshman Alma Rosado, who opposes campus carry, said minorities are often targets of gun violence. 

“We’ve faced a lot of predjudice and racism based on our ethnicity,” Rosado said. “I’ve faced opposition, I’ve faced a lot of confrontation with people who have had weaponry on them.” 

Students for Concealed Carry spokesperson Antonia Okafor said that sometimes lawmakers have to prioritize decisions based on facts and reason over the personal feelings of their constituents. 

“As a black woman, I can respect that minority communities have their own views on questions of public policy,” Okafor said in an email. “However, if public policy were solely about public opinion, there might not be any minority voters or minority students.” 

Most Texas voters, she said, support campus carry, citing the Texas Tribune and Texas Politics Project poll which shows that 47 percent of Texas voters support campus carry, while 45 percent oppose it. 

“Based on what little we know about the poll’s methodology, we know that it was aimed at certain demographics and not at a representative sampling of Texas voters,” Okafor said in an email. “Presumably, that’s why the results (on both campus carry and open carry) differ so widely from the two polls conducted as a joint effort of the Texas Tribune and Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. Both of those polls found more Texans in support of campus carry than opposed to it.” 

In response, Cokley said gauging the support of Texas voters for campus carry should take different demographic groups into account. A representative sampling of Texas voters were polled using standard voting methodology, he said. 

“It would be interesting to see if the results from the earlier [Texas Tribune] polls would look different if the data had been disaggregated by race,” Cokley said in a statement. “It can be misleading to say that Texans support campus carry or open carry (or any issue for that matter) without knowing if this is true across different racial or ethnic groups.” 

Max Snodderly, a member of faculty group Gun Free UT, said many faculty members, including minority faculty members, he has spoken with feel threatened by guns on campus. Their feelings should not be ignored, he said. 

“I don’t understand what the facts and reasons are that are more important than the feelings of those who feel, you know, intimidated and threatened by more and more weapons,” Snodderly said.

This article has been updated since its initial publication.