As the Texas House and Senate consider legislation that would legalize concealed carry of handguns on campus by licensed individuals, four members of the UT community met Wednesday to debate the issue in the Texas Union Theatre.
The panel was sponsored by the Texas Interdisciplinary Plan Fellows, an honors program. The panel discussion focused on a House bill that would allow license holders to carry a concealed handgun on campuses of higher education and bar these institutions from establishing rules that prohibit concealed handguns. The Senate’s version of the bill is currently stalled because Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, is not sure he has the votes necessary to bring it to the floor.
Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, the author of the House’s concealed carry on campus bill, and Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, an opponent of the bill, were scheduled to speak at the panel discussion but were unable to attend because the House was still in session.
“All people live under the Second Amendment, yet from state to state and region to region, we all have different interpretations of how you can expand on that amendment,” said Moon Draper, a biology lecturer who moderated the panel.
“The funny thing [is], these people who have these licenses are so law-abiding,” said Kory Zipperer, vice president of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. “They are seven times more law-abiding than the average citizen.”
Associate biology professor Molly Cummings said if the grades she gives out to students derail their professional dreams it could lead to extreme frustration. She said she can not simultaneously lecture while also scanning her classroom for concealed handgun carriers. Cummings said she would be a sitting duck in her own classroom.
“Why am I not afraid of CHL holders in other parts of my life like in the grocery store or at the movie theater?” Cummings said. “Frankly, I do not hold sway over the person standing next to me in the produce aisle whether or not they get to go to medical school. Here at the University of Texas, I do.”
John Woods, a microbiology graduate student who attended Virginia Tech during the 2007 campus shooting that left 33 people dead, said he is tired of gun advocates using that tragedy to promote legislation he doesn’t believe will solve the problem.
Dane Marone, a licensed handgun carrier and Navy veteran who works in computer support at the McCombs School of Business, said Woods makes excellent arguments, but his emotional attachment to the issue reduces his credibility.
“I’m disappointed the arguments have been so abstract and emotionally driven as opposed to based on reality and real arguments,” Marone said.