North Texas Daily

University does not expect an increase in gun violence following new unlicensed carry bill

University does not expect an increase in gun violence following new unlicensed carry bill

University does not expect an increase in gun violence following new unlicensed carry bill
September 16
17:00 2021

Campus officials did not distribute a campus announcement of the unlicensed carry legislation, which was enacted Sept. 1, stating they are not concerned about the new law.

The Firearm Carry Act of 2021 eliminates the requirement for Texas residents to obtain a license to carry handguns if they are not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a gun.

“Our thought was this is just a fairly minor change as far as the day-to-day operations, but it’s not something that we think isn’t going to cause a lot of change physically on our campus,” said Clay Simmons, chief compliance officer out of the Office of the President. “We don’t really expect a lot of people showing up with open carry handguns or anything like that.”

University police officials said there has been no statistical change in campus gun violence after the passage of the 2016 campus carry law, which allowed licensed holders to carry a concealed handgun on public university campuses. Campus police expect the same for the new unlicensed carry bill.

“I do not anticipate any changes in our calls,” said David Causey, community relations officer for the university police.

Biology freshman GiAnni’ Spears said she did not know campus did not release an announcement for the unlicensed legislation. She said she trusts people on campus but believes there should have been an announcement issued by the university.

“It’s just nice to know what’s going on,” Spears said. “Especially since campus is so big and we have such a diverse population of people.”

Causey said he understands student and faculty concerns about seeing a person with a concealed gun on campus.

An individual may carry a concealed handgun on campus premises except in buildings and at activities prohibited by this policy, including sporting events, Causey said. Unlicensed holders are responsible for knowing areas where carrying a concealed handgun is prohibited.

The campus police department updates its training every two years when new legislature laws are passed. In this case, the force has already trained on the new gun law.

“Our police department is really on top of responding to any incident that happens on campus,” Simmons said. “Their response times are important and so given their training, and the interaction they have with campus, I’m very confident that they will take care of any issues as they arise.”

In April, an aggravated assault involved fraternity members and escalated to gunfire behind the Kappa Sigma fraternity house, which resulted in two students being transported to a nearby hospital. Police said Jared Michael Harrison, 21, and Terrence Ezekiel McGill, 20, had no known affiliation with the university, according to CBS DFW. It is unclear if Harrison and Ezekiel were legally carrying the involved firearms.

In the same month, Denton Police advised residents to stay indoors following the discovery of a gunshot victim in the area of I-35 and McCormick Street. The suspect fled the scene, prompting armed police officers stationed near campus. The university’s emergency system Eagle Alert was not set off because “police did not believe there was a threat to campus” according to the university.

On Sept. 12, a deceased male was found as police investigated a shooting in the 2200 block W. Prairie St, across from the Traditions and Sante Fe residence halls. An Eagle Alert was not issued in this instance either. On Twitter, a university spokesperson said the incident did not involved a university student and an alert was not issued because the shooting “does not pose any safety threat to the UNT community.”

Psychology freshman Andrea Edebor said it is concerning that campus did not release an announcement on the new unlicensed carry law. Edebor felt like campus officials should think about how students will feel, as she personally feels there should be stronger gun regulations.

“I definitely think there should be some type of control, like some regulations to just keep people safe,” Edebor said.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Juan Betancourt

Juan Betancourt

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