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Firearms, gun-free zones and PTSD discussed at first campus carry open meeting

Firearms, gun-free zones and PTSD discussed at first campus carry open meeting

UNT biology freshman Austin Rodgers asks a prepared question during the first town hall style forum on campus carry at the Gateway Center on Tuesday. Kristen Watson | DRC

Firearms, gun-free zones and PTSD discussed at first campus carry open meeting
October 13
22:42 2015

Rhiannon Saegert | Senior Staff Writer

@Missmusetta

The university heard from the UNT community Tuesday night in the first of several scheduled open meetings set up for students, faculty and staff to have their opinions acknowledged before the Campus Carry Task Force, which was appointed by UNT President Neal Smatresk.

Discussion focused mainly on the placement of gun-free zones, areas where concealed handguns won’t be allowed. Other questions focused on the mental toll a concealed carry environment would have on students, and the potential effect campus carry would have if an active shooter opened fire on campus.

Committee chair Eric Fritsch said he appreciated the student input.

“To me that’s one of the greatest challenges to the committee,” Fritsch said. “How do we uphold the law? How do we balance the intent of the law and the rights of concealed carry handgun license holders to carry on campus, versus student concerns and their fear for their safety?”

McConnell Hall, the Child Development Laboratory and Chestnut Hall were suggested by multiple students as potential gun-free zones.

Students asking questions began to debate one another over the potential dangers an increase in firearms on campus would pose, discussing whether concealed handgun license holders could deteriorate a dangerous situation.

One student suggested designating a certain building or set of courses as gun-free, giving students an option to enroll in classes where no one will be carrying. Fritsch said it was an idea that hadn’t been brought up yet, and said it could be a big challenge.

“It’s an interesting idea,” Fritsch said. “Really, the question would need to be posed to the registrar’s office, to know if that’s even feasible. I understand it’s semi-chaotic to even schedule classes, because we have so much growth going on, but you don’t see many classroom buildings going up.”

Another student, who said she has gun-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, asked the committee how students in similar situations are expected to cope, and if any mental health resources would be made available.

Dean of students Maureen McGuinness said it wasn’t the first time she’d heard students’ mental health brought up as a potential issue.

“I gave her my business card so we can talk, so I can see how we can help her with the resources we already have on campus,” McGuinness said. “Sometimes it’s just getting connected and working through that with counseling.”

McGuinness said any students with similar concerns should contact her or her office.

All students, faculty and staff are invited by the university attend one of the open meetings. For more details, visit this website. The next open meeting is for staff and will take place at 2 p.m. Wednesday in Bruce Hall, Concert Room D250.

Featured Image: Biology freshman Austin Rodgers asks a prepared question during the first town hall style forum on campus carry at the Gateway Center on Tuesday. Kristen Watson | DRC

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