Legislature ignores police voices with passage of campus carry

Alexander Chase

This summer when the NRA-backed campus carry bill passed through the Texas Legislature and the individuals who best understand guns on campus and have the most to lose from it were entirely ignored.

The Texas Association of College and University Police Administrators opposed the legislation, arguing that it would be bad for both students and police officers.

The group argued it would make it more difficult for police officers to determine which gun-toting individuals on campus represented a threat. In a line of duty defined by split-section decisions, these laws can be the difference between life and death.

This blatant disregard for the voices of police officers is not unique to campus carry, either. Seventy-five percent of police chiefs in Texas oppose open carry. Frederick Frazier, Dallas Police Association vice president, was among those openly frustrated that his representative was not working with him on the bill.

The deep and troubling irony that comes with ignoring police is that scarcely three months later, Greg Abbott and other Republicans who supported these bills used the death of a police officer for political gain.

After Harris County sheriff’s deputy Darren Goforth was brutally murdered, Greg Abbott issued a proclamation that “police lives matter.” Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick took the opportunity to distance himself from Democrats who support the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I’m tired of this ‘certain lives matter,’” Patrick said. “All lives do matter and particularly law enforcement.”

Their record on gun laws speaks loud and clear. For Abbott and Patrick, police lives matter only when it is politically convenient.

That convenience is more than enough to influence politicians not to be effective policymakers. Government professor Bryan Jones said both these positions are attractive to the Republican base.

“Gun rights groups are very concentrated in high-level primary voters and politicians in the Republican Party are hearing a lot from those people,” Jones said.

For politicians trying to appeal to a base, it does not matter if their views are contradictory if the base wants to hear those views. Jones said that the police lives matter rhetoric is never about policy.

“They are playing to their constituencies,” Jones said. “If the police come out against a whole bunch of guns in society, politicians don’t pay attention to the police, but when they can wrap themselves around the blue uniform to impress their constituents, they do.”

When the Legislature stops policymaking and starts politicking, it becomes difficult to trust. Government senior Kiefer Odell is among those disillusioned with the politicking they have undertaken.

“The majority of the Texas Legislature has proven time and time again that they’re not interested in confronting issues that actually matter to Texans,” Odell said.

Championing police as victims in need of protection after ignoring their pleas for protection is more than hypocritical. When the Texas Legislature is willing to ignore the voices of those it claims to value most, no Texan should trust it to protect their needs.

Chase is a Plan II and economics junior from Royse City. Follow Chase on Twitter @alexwchase.