Without reasonable precedent, campus carry is a risky gamble for Texas universities

Noah M. Horwitz

Editor's Note: This column is one in a point-counterpoint debit on the merits of campus carry in Texas universities.

In many cases, opponents of the expansion of gun rights contort and ignore precedent for their own goals. In 1995, when Texas legalized concealed carry, and this year, when Texas passed a law to legalize open carry, opponents crowed that Texas was entering uncharted territory and to be wary of the consequences. That was not true; the vast majority of states preceded Texas in both these undertakings.

On campus carry, however, the same cannot be said. At the maximum, only six states have preceded Texas in passing laws that require public institutions of higher education to allow concealed handguns onto their campuses and into their dorms. Of these six states (Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin), none are comparable in size to Texas. Further, none host universities approaching the magnitude of this University or Texas A&M University, respectively.

That open carry has not been tested on a large scale, though, is only a fraction of its problem. Students, professors, administrators, former President William Powers, Jr., UT System Chancellor William McRaven and even the editorial board of the Texan are only some of those who have stood on this campus alone to protest the change. The professionals charge that it is detrimental to the learning environment, but the students don't want it for other reasons altogether.

Sadly, campus carry isn't about what the students want. It's about what one political party wants. At a time when our state's roads are crumbling and public schools are struggling, the State Legislature appeased these zealots by wasting time on letting UT students carry guns to class, despite UT itself strongly advocating for the contrary.

Proponents ludicrously claim that this ostensible influx of guns will make students who live on campus safer by letting them defend themselves. However, the vast majority of students who live on campus are below 21, the minimum-age to receive a concealed handgun license. Additionally, proponents claim that a "good guy with a gun" would have been able to stop madmen in the midst of mass murder, such as Charles Whitman. But shooting up 28 floors of the Tower — or stopping any mass-murderer armed with heavy weaponry — with a handgun is functionally impossible.

On the flip-side of this, the legalization of campus carry will not lead to more Charles Whitman-style massacres; if one is evil and deranged enough to go through such intricate planning, a mere legal prohibition will not stop him. What very well may increase in frequency, however, are the smaller incidents. A drunken brawl between acquaintances or an argument between student and professor could end with someone losing her or his life, merely because a 21-year-old with his adrenaline and testosterone pumping reached for his holster in an act of rage.

College is a wonderful setting where so many diverse people and ideas get to interact with one another in an oftentimes contentious setting. Guns should not be added to the mix.

Horwitz is a government senior from Houston. He is the Senior Associate Editor. Follow him on Twitter @nmhorwitz.