Armed matriculation

Roy Cathey

After the recent tragedy in Newtown, CT, in which 20 students and six educators were murdered at a public school, the country has entered a heated debate over how to make schools safer. States such as New York have already passed new laws to decrease the probability of gun violence, and the president has issued an executive order for heightened federal gun control. Texas, a state with some of the most lax gun laws in the country and a governor who most likely has the Second Amendment pinned to his bedroom wall, has plans of its own this legislative session: inject more guns into the public school system. Members of the Texas Senate have wasted no time in churning out a concealed carry on campus bill to be debated for the second legislative session in a row. If the objective of this bill is safety, then the question must be posed: Would campus carry be beneficial or detrimental to campus security?

Cody Wilson, a UT law student currently working on a project that aims to allow anyone to download a file and print a fully operational firearm from a 3D printer, believes the campus carry bill doesn’t fully comply with the constitutionally-enshrined right granted by the Second Amendment. Instead of a concealed handgun — one of the few bars Texas law places on bearing arms — Wilson believes we should be allowed to carry a pistol in plain sight to “better make the point.” The idea is that if everyone is strapped to the teeth with firepower, potential shooters would be far too intimidated to act on their homicidal tendencies. This belief would imply that campus law enforcement doesn’t quite cut it in warding off possible threats. Following that logic, armed students would be a service to the police, giving them the power of thousands of vigilantes on their side.

Travis County Deputy Sheriff Derrick R. Taylor, who stressed that his opinions are his own and by no means reflect those of Travis County or the state of Texas, is unconvinced by that argument. Deputy Taylor would be anything but comforted by campus carry, listing reason after reason with a stern look in his eyes. “Our job is to protect,” he said. “Are you trained and ready to live with the guilt and pain of taking a life?” He also wondered what kind of individuals with what levels of responsibility were wearing guns to school and the myriad consequences that could arise from common carelessness.

The idea of armed matriculation is a terrifying one, and I can’t help but be reminded of the Charles Whitman shootings on campus 47 years ago. If you hear the alarming crack of gunfire and start seeing people around you fall to the ground, what kind of mental fortitude are you going to be able to sustain in order to judiciously operate a firearm? As much as everyone wants to be John Wayne, it takes countless hours of training to act accordingly in this type of situation — training you don’t receive by attaining a concealed handgun license.

I asked over 100 UT students via a poll in the “Class of 2015” Facebook group whether they would feel safer knowing their fellow students are armed. Eighty-nine percent said “no.” Whether you champion the Second Amendment or not is irrelevant when weighing the risks of a campus carry bill. While it may be a constitutional right for me to have a gun, it is also within the rights of my classmates to attend a lecture without worrying about the guy in front of her with a Colt .45 strapped to his waist. The simple fact of the matter is this: Not everyone takes the sight of a gun lightly. UT is composed of an eclectic blend of students, and I can guarantee many of them associate guns with chaos — which is exactly what this bill invites.

Cathey is a journalism sophomore from Dripping Springs.