If you don’t like campus carry, vote Democratic.
In 2015, every single Republican in the Texas Legislature – all 118 of them, excluding house speaker Joseph Straus, who does not frequently vote – voted to allow guns onto the campus and into the buildings and dorms of this university. They did so over the objection of this university’s administration, faculty, students, alumni and police department. They did so not for any care about us, about the students of Texas, but to fend off Republican primary opponents. The minuscule portion of this state that participates in Republican primary elections scared officeholders into supporting a crazy proposal because it is popular with the National Rifle Association.
This should sicken each and every one of us. It should be a deal-breaker, one from which there can be no recovery and no forgiveness.
My state representative back home in Houston is Sarah Davis. She is the most moderate Republican in the state legislature. She’s pro-choice. She’s in favor of LGBT rights. She is pragmatic on the budget. And while I voted for her in 2014, I cannot ever again, because of campus carry. Davis made a choice. That choice directly led to myself and thousands of her constituents becoming less safe.
I need not reiterate the myriad reasons that campus carry is an astoundingly awful idea. The near unanimity of its condemnation by pertinent experts on college and law enforcement speaks for itself.
When I cast my vote, absentee, this November, I will not vote for Davis. I will vote for her Democratic opponent, who tells me that he will fight against campus carry if elected. If you have a Republican state representative, then he or she voted for campus carry. You would be wise to remember, and to voice your unhappiness at the ballot box, where it will speak the loudest.
I typically eschew single-issue voting, finding it petty and ignorant of other valuable contributions that may have been offered, but campus carry is simply too important of an issue to gloss over. The callousness with which my representative, and about a hundred other constituencies’ representatives, made my safety as a student secondary to political expediency is no venial offense.
In a year when most of the oxygen in politics has been sucked into a bloviating demagogue full of hot air and the presidential news cycle he dominates, the down-ballot races can appear quaint and irrelevant. They are anything but. The state legislature regulates this university. And while Longhorns may have once assumed they were insulated from the bush league politics taking place down the road, those assumptions have ended.
The late Joe Jamail may have once suggested that UT was the third rail of state politics, but campus carry proved that the legislators — at least the Republicans — have no qualms messing with Texas. In November, I hope students and their family register their disapproval.
Horwitz is a first year law student from Houston.