The Texas Legislature has reloaded the debate on campus carry, a controversial bill allowing guns on campus. After failing to pass in 2011 and 2013, the bill is once again making its way through the Texas Senate. It has met with fierce opposition from antigun activists. UT System Chancellor William McRaven, previous Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and President William Powers Jr. have all openly advised against it. Professors are condemning firearms on campus, and students are not eager to adopt the bill, either. Still, it passed on a 7-2 party-line vote from the Senate State Affairs Committee and is on its way to the Senate floor.
So why is this bill advancing if it has been repeatedly blocked and opposed? And who, besides individuals prepared for armed conflict on campuses, stands to benefit from campus carry? According to Jeremi Suri’s most recent column, this debate is, unfortunately, “not about universities at all."
Campus carry is intruding a political agenda onto Texas campuses. The bill is an impractical way of preserving social libertarian principles and puts campuses in jeopardy. Gun advocates that stand to champion another “individual rights” bill are overlooking this.
This is a political wedge issue. The students don’t benefit. The faculty don’t benefit. College campuses make up a significant portion of the Texas population that generally restricts the possession of weapons. As Suri says, universities are “familiar targets for advocates of individual freedom” because they occupy “large spaces in our cities and towns.” Texas is asserting its conservative bona fides. Since conservative agendas have little competition from the left, guns on campuses is political leverage for securing primary voters.
These power politics are prioritizing the right to bear arms over the right to receive an education safely. On campus, freedoms can be restrained to reach the collective goal of education. That is why texting and other behaviors are regulated in classrooms. Our campus is a special space for inquiry, and our right to this space should not be infringed upon.
Shah is a business and government sophomore from Temple.