Gun violence prevention advocates speak at Capitol

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Susan Nelson, a member of Texas Gun Sense, stresses proper gun storage. Nelson was shot by an intruder in 1993 using a friend’s gun.
Photo Credit: Ravin Rene | Daily Texan Staff

Susan Nelson was at a friend’s house in 1993 when a robber shot her in the back of the head. The gun belonged to Nelson’s friend, who had stored it away, but the robber was able to retrieve it.

Today, Nelson is a member of Texas Gun Sense, an organization advocating for stricter gun laws in Texas public spaces, including universities.

“Twenty-three years later we’re still talking about the same thing,” Nelson said.

Nelson said she isn’t anti-gun; she just wants people to learn safer practices, including safe storage, when it comes to firearms.

Nelson, along with other advocates, gathered on the south side of the Capitol’s steps Thursday afternoon to share their stories and to hear legislative recommendations for the 85th Legislature from Texas Gun Sense leaders for stricter gun laws.

Andrea Brauer, executive director of Texas Gun Sense, said the group’s goal is to educate others and push for safe gun practices.

“Gun violence [prevention] is not about disarming law-abiding citizens,” Brauer said. “It is not about repealing the Second Amendment.”

State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, said gun violence is preventable through safer gun laws. She is working on filing House Bill 392, a bill to ban guns in state hospitals, as well as House Bill 391, a bill to offer Texas public universities the option to opt out of the campus carry law.

Thirty-seven private institutions, including Rice University, opted out of the law, with only Amberton University in Garland opting in. Howard is hoping to provide public institutions with the same opportunity.

Campus carry was passed in the 84th Texas Legislature in 2015, and it was implemented at Texas universities on Aug. 1 of this year. On the first week of classes, students and faculty protested the law, but since the law was put into effect, there have been no known incidents of crimes committed by a concealed handgun carrier on campus.

The UT System said at the Board of Regents meeting earlier in November, one of their goals for the next legislative session is to keep the campus carry law as is at all UT campuses.

“We believe that all of our presidents … used the discretions that’s found to make well reasoned decisions as to where concealed handguns should not be allowed on each of our campuses and we hope to see those decisions in place,” Barry McBee, UT System vice chancellor for governmental relations, said at the meeting.

UT System Chancellor William McRaven has said in the past he doesn’t support the law because guns on campus create an unsafe environment.

Elyse Avina, president of Students Against Campus Carry, is currently volunteering with Texas Gun Sense in hopes of educating others. She was one of several students on campus who believes guns do not belong on a university.

“Keeping [campus carry] as is and sweeping it under the rug really isn’t going to fix anything,” Avina said.