North Texas Daily

Texas lawmakers need to avoid campus carry

Texas lawmakers need to avoid campus carry

Texas lawmakers need to avoid campus carry
February 23
23:35 2015

The Editorial Board

Texas lawmakers should discontinue their pursuit of legalizing campus carry. Students are better protected by professionally trained law enforcement officers, and should not be subjected to the whims of average citizens toting guns on campus. The current Texas Penal Code prohibits the carry of weapons on educational grounds, and the law should remain unchanged. On behalf of the students and faculty of UNT, this Editorial Board stands opposed to legalized campus carry.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution is of high importance, and should be protected by the federal legislature and the Texas legislature. However, the Amendment allows American citizens to bear arms, not to brandish them in all environments. While there are some appropriate places for legalized weapons, a university campus is not such.

By prohibiting weapons on campus, an entity is not constricting the reach of the Second Amendment. Rather the entity is promoting responsible weapons practices. In this case, the current system set in place is set up in such a way that minimal contact with dangerous weapons has to occur on a day-to-day basis.

By reducing the chances, students are safer, something common sense Texas lawmakers seem to be ignoring, instead favoring the agendas of the gun lobby.

A recent study analyzed by the Houston Chronicle estimates campus carry procedures will cost universities millions of dollars, adding stress to an already underfunded higher education system. The University of Texas System would have to cover about $39 million in costs, paid by the campus police departments. The emphasis here is that by legalizing campus carry, universities would have to parlay an extra burden financially.

But campus carry wouldn’t only engineer financial strain; the sense of community on campuses would be mixed with fear and unpredictability. Imagine walking to class alongside hundreds of people carrying pistols. Weapons make people uncomfortable, and lawmakers should understand these concerns instead of remaining naïve, like Texas politicians have for so long. Campus carry will create a sense of stress on campus, and nobody here deserves that.

Legislators focus too much on mass shootings in context with gun reform. We should not change law due to mass shootings. Those shootings are highly tragic and heartbreaking, but the desire to prevent such massacres should not be met with an increased amount of arms on the streets (or campus). One killer with a weapon is less dangerous than three students with good intentions. In order to eliminate the shooter’s opportunity to kill, there has to be somebody near with the means to do so — the very origin of the guns debate.

The duty of keeping students and faculty safe falls on the campus police department. At UNT, the police presence is shockingly low and should be increased. It’s understood the department focuses its time on parking and driving violations, but foot and bicycle officers should patrol campus more often. Get out of your cars, put down your lattes and do your job. Get out and interact with the population more often. There’s more to police work than traffic concerns. The more officers on patrol, the less susceptible students and faculty are to violent crimes and deaths, thus reducing the need for students and faculty to carry weapons on campus.

This debate is not about taking anything away. Instead, it’s about practicality. It is reasonable to assume a campus carrier can eliminate a threat. But it is as reasonable to assume that a campus carrier can cause more of a problem. Because of this, legalizing campus carry does not solve for anything. On protection, practical solutions are needed. And increasing the hardware on campus is not a practical solution. Law enforcement measures and its reach should be the focus. Stay away from campus carry.

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