Campus carry certainly is a divisive issue, but nothing unites us quite like our excretory systems. Everyone poops. But when guns are allowed on campus next August, public bathrooms might prove an unlikely mess.
Gun owners are often tempted to remove their holsters and rest their weapons in the various nooks of the stall when they use the restroom, raising the chances of leaving the weapon behind — or worse — accidentally discharging it.
People have found guns in the bathrooms of churches, movie theaters, government buildings, airports and schools. Removing your weapon to drop trou is neither safe nor proper procedure, but then again, there is no proper procedure for gun handling when you “have one in the chamber.” And even one mishap would give serious ammunition (pun intended) to the movement against campus carry.
A member of the U.S. Capitol Police recently forgot his loaded gun in a stall in the Capitol Visitor Center restroom, and it was found by a 7-year-old tourist. This is one of three incidents this year in which a gun was left in a public bathroom by the U.S. Capitol Police. These are professionals charged with the safety of our Congressmen and who carry guns for a living. What will happen when student gun owners — preoccupied with problem sets, parties and pumpkin spice lattes — go between classes?
Maybe we could hang “Don’t Forget Your Gun” signs above the toilet paper. At least then we’ll have something new to ponder upon the porcelain thrones of UT. But jokes aside, “bathroom carry” is not as silly as it sounds.
In 2009, a Tampa woman accidentally shot herself in the leg while using a hotel restroom. Last September, an elementary school teacher injured herself when her gun went off while she was relieving herself in a school bathroom.
But Don Dougherty, a chief firearms instructor for Ready Learning Academy, said these are isolated incidents of carelessness and shouldn’t be cause for concern.
“Out of the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of concealed carriers, both professional and civilian, a small fraction of a small fraction have erred in forgetting to retrieve their firearm after putting it down for any number of activities,” Dougherty said. “It’s rare and in no way represents any real issue requiring monitoring. Just remember to be mindful of your heightened level of responsibility when carrying concealed.”
With such a stink surrounding campus carry, student gun owners will be under intense scrutiny when the policy is enacted. Hopefully, they will be as diligent with their weapons in restrooms as they are elsewhere.
Schmidt is a physics and aerospace engineering sophomore from Austin.