North Texas Daily

“Campus carry” isn’t far off, if Texas lawmakers get their way

“Campus carry” isn’t far off, if Texas lawmakers get their way

January 28
23:44 2013

Staying on top of your busy college schedule often feels like a battle. Unfortunately, for some that battle is all too real.

Less than 30 days into this new year, our nation has seen five school shootings, three of which took place on college campuses, one of them in this state.

None of these attacks have even approached the massive death toll of the Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown, Conn. last December, but the fact remains that for students returning to the University of North Texas this semester, the threat of on-campus violence is a bigger concern than ever before.

Gun sales have remained at an all-time high across the nation since the Newtown shooting, but simply keeping a gun at home doesn’t help much when a shooter attacks a public place—so some owners explore a more hidden option.

Most states allow gun owners to carry a concealed handgun after proper training. In Texas, this is known as a concealed handgun license or CHL, and requires passing a safety course, demonstrating target accuracy during a qualifying shooting session, providing fingerprints and undergoing a background check.

Licensees are still barred from carrying their weapons in schools, bars, most sporting events and federal buildings.

But in light of recent shootings in these supposedly gun-free places, some handgun owners, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, don’t all agree with a blanket ban. After all, they argue, if licensed, law-abiding students and faculty can’t return fire to a gunman on their campus, how are they expected to defend themselves?

“There are already guns on campus. All too often they are illegal. I want there to be legal guns on campus.”
– Gov. Rick Perry

Texas has relatively loose gun laws compared to other states, but still prohibits carrying a concealed weapon on a college campus, at least for now.

But if a bill filed earlier this month by Republican state Sen. Brian Birdwell makes it to Gov. Perry’s desk, you might soon see a lot more firepower walking the hallways of Texas colleges.

Or, to be more precise, you wouldn’t see it. The proposed bill, SB 182, would allow college students, faculty and staff members who hold concealed handgun licenses to carry their guns on campus.

Proposals like this aren’t too uncommon. In fact, similar laws have passed in Colorado, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin.

But are concealed handgun owners able to defend our school against violent threats? The evidence is mixed.

A study of Texas CHL holders found that between 1996 and 2001, 41 CHL holders were arrested for murder and attempted murder. In fact, licensees were arrested for weapon-related offenses 81 percent more often than the general adult population.

We can ignore the increased capacity for crime, but the question remains of whether armed civilians are capable of turning the tide during a massacre.

A “mass shooting” is defined by the FBI as an isolated incident of gun violence involving four or more deaths, not including the life of the shooter.

There have been at least 60 mass shootings in the U.S. since 1980, and none of these incidents were definitively stopped in progress by an armed civilian.

Mass shooters have been killed by bystanders in the past, but these interventions took place after the shooting had ceased, while the killer attempted to escape the scene.

When individuals do take down mass murderers, they are almost always trained professionals like police officers, security guards or military personnel. When ordinary citizens try to intervene, the results are more often negative.

In 2005 alone, two concealed-carry permit holders were shot on separate occasions when they tried to stop mass shootings, one succumbing to his injuries.

Law enforcement responders train for these chaotic situations, but adding the unpredictable factor of other armed individuals to an already tense situation is a recipe for disaster.

A police officer who sees a person carrying a gun on the scene of a massacre can’t tell if they’re attempting to stop the shooting, or perpetrating the shooting themselves, and the officer may not stop to ask before taking a shot.

If multiple gun-toting good Samaritans respond to a shooting, there’s also a good chance they’ll mistake each other for the shooter. After all, the good guys don’t wear blue, and mistakes can happen in the heat of the moment.

This isn’t speculation, it happened to Joe Zamudio, an Arizona man who responded to the shooting of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in Tucson.

Zamudio nearly fired at a man he saw holding a gun at the scene, but we’re glad he didn’t, since the man was holding the gun after wrestling it away from the actual shooter.

We’re not looking at this issue because we’re necessarily against guns or pro-gun control. This is Texas, and many of us on this editorial board own firearms, are familiar with shooting sports, or even plan on receiving their own CHL certifications.

That being said, we don’t think Texas needs this bill.

There’s simply not enough evidence that guns stop these massacres from occurring, and we’re not comfortable with the risk of loaded weapons around us on campus unless they’re in the hands of professionals.

Owning guns for fun, sport, and personal protection is an American right, but we can’t advocate putting our fellow students at further risk in a deadly situation.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that we should stand idle. As the threat of shootings continues, we’d like to see the administration of this university outline their emergency response plans for on-campus gun violence in detail.

Directly informing students on how their safety is ensured, along with what they should do to protect themselves and those around them if such a tragedy strikes, will ensure peace of mind for everyone—not just the ones with the guns.

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  1. Stephen Pineau
    Stephen Pineau January 29, 13:47

    This article does a superb job at appearing impartial while deliberately misrepresenting the realities of concealed carry and the impact that CCW permit holders have had on numerous mass shootings in just the past few years alone. A simple Google search for “Active Shooter stopped by Armed Citizen” will yield results that will immediately refute the DIRECT QUOTE from this article:

    “There have been at least 60 mass shootings in the U.S. since 1980, and none of these incidents were definitively stopped in progress by an armed civilian.”

    Mass Killings Stopped by Armed Citizens

    There are several documented cases where armed citizens have stopped mass attacks by gunmen. Let me list a few: The Pearl, Mississippi school shooting was stopped by the vice principal Joel Myrick with a .45-caliber handgun, The Appalachian School shooting was stopped by two students with handguns. Both of the above incidents were stopped by the armed citizens threatening the shooter without firing.

    Pearl High School

    Appalachian Law School

    Plans to slay everyone in the Muskegon, Michigan, store and steal enough cash and jewelry to feed their “gnawing hunger for crack cocaine” fell apart for a band of would-be killers after one of their victims fought back.

    Muskegon Shooting

    The mass church shooting in Colorado Springs was stopped by the shooter being shot by a church member with a CCW permit.

    New Life Church

    The Santa Clara gunshop shooting in 1999 was stopped by an armed citizen after the shooter declared that he was going to kill everyone. Police found a list of intended victims in his car. Only the perpetrator, Richard Gable Stevens was shot.

    Santa Clara Gunshop

    The December, 1991, Aniston, Alabama defense where a CCW holder stopped armed robbers who were herding employees, customers, and his wife into a cooler. He shot both robbers, killing one.

    Aniston Shoney’s Shooting

    July 13, 2009, in Virginia at the Golden Food Market: The gunman tried to shoot several people, was stopped by a CCW carrier.

    Golden Food Market Shooting

    Just recently, in Early Texas, armed citizen Vic Stacy shot and stopped a deranged man who had just murdered two neighbors and was firing at police with a rifle. Stacy made a very long shot with his revolver, three times as far as the perpetrator was from the police officer, who had an AR-15 type rifle.

    Early Texas Peach House Shooting

    This is not to mention the recent shootings in Oregon and San Antonio – Both of which were stopped by CCW permit holders.

    **I believe I speak for everyone when I say that we are open to hearing your concerns regarding such matters as concealed carry on campus. I, and many individuals such as myself, will willing go out of our way to educate others on this topic in an effort to assuage your concerns. However, it would truly be refreshing if those who are opposed would stop deliberately misrepresenting the facts of the situation.**

    Willful ignorance is still ignorance.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Tracy E.
    Tracy E. January 29, 22:16

    Nicely written editorial!

    Reply to this comment

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