Starting August 1 of this year, students above the age of 21 who have licenses to carry will be allowed to keep concealed guns on college campuses in the state of Texas. According to the University of Texas, Austin’s webpage, concealed carry has been legal on college campuses for about twenty years. However, this new law, which state Governor Greg Abbott signed into law in June 2015, allows for concealed carry inside buildings on college campuses. As fellow college students attempting to visualize a scenario where our school campus would legally contain people with guns, we find this absolutely terrifying.
We find this piece of legislation particularly appalling (but not entirely surprising) for several reasons. Texas recently became the 45th state to legalize some form of open carry law in public places. However, a college campus is not like any other public place. It is a place of learning and research, the pursuit of knowledge. Guns contribute to none of these things. Allowing them inside of buildings on college campuses only places dangerous, life-threatening weapons so much closer to students. It makes students, faculty, staff, and anyone else who visits a college or university on a daily basis riskier.
Generally, when it comes to gun control, people who argue for it tend to bring in the topic of self defense. But in the case of allowing guns into classrooms and other campus buildings, the argument seems irrelevant to us. The entire point of going to university is to broaden your horizons and talk about topics that make you uncomfortable in order to gain a better understanding of the world around you. College students already face a lot of stress and anxiety from juggling academics, jobs, and their social lives. Imagine how the presence of handguns is going to shape the culture of a university campus.
Being a professor in a setting where a student is legally allowed to carry a lethal weapon will change the dynamics of a college classroom. College classrooms are breeding grounds for arguments, discussion of differing opinions and viewpoints. Altercations between students, particularly with students who carry weapons who are prone to anger, can have newly fatal results. As most people would value their lives over retaining the importance of having open, varied discourse in their classes, this new law could create a form of censorship in classrooms.
The University of Houston’s Faculty Senate has released a set of proposed guidelines as to how professors and other faculty could prepare themselves when dealing with students who are carrying guns in their classrooms. One proposal warns professors to “steer clear of ‘sensitive topics’ and drop hot button issues from their curricula.” This directly affects what professors are choosing to teach and what students will be learning in the classroom setting.
Allowing concealed carry inside classrooms will only create fear and uneasiness among students. Guns inside classrooms create fear and tension among students and faculty, and also a lesser, repressed learning environment. We see no merits for allowing weapons on college or university campuses.