As campus carry bills loom, future of concealed handguns on campuses uncertain
With less than 10 weeks remaining in the regular session for the 84th Texas Legislature, college administrators and students are keeping a close watch on Senate Bill 11 and House Bill 937. Better known as the campus carry bills, they would allow individuals over 21 with concealed handgun licenses to lawfully carry concealed handguns into college buildings and classrooms.
Proponents of the bill suggest that the mandate is a deterrent against crime, while opponents argue that the law will perpetuate an unsafe environment on campuses. Last week, the Senate gave final approval on SB 11, sending it to the House for a committee vote.
“Gun-free zones create an area where only law-abiding citizens are without weapons,” said supply chain management senior Antoine Hythier, president of the UH chapter of the Students for Concealed Carry.
“Criminals, by their very nature, ignore these laws and prey upon the defenseless. Any quick search about campus security will show the vast number of armed crimes.”
According to UH’s annual crime report, 14 aggravated assaults, 33 robberies and 200 burglaries took place between 2011 and 2013. With the mandate, Hythier and other supporters argue that the bills will allow CHL holders to protect themselves in the same manner as if they were anywhere else.
For UHPD Chief Ceaser Moore, the bills offer nothing more than increased risk to his officers and the campus community.
“I’m against it. I know the administration is against it,” Moore said. “There’s a thing called smart-people syndrome, and when you’re in the room and you’re talking about something, and you come up with a plan, it really sounds like a good plan, but in the world where people actually exist, it’s just not a good idea.”
Moore said the logistics of having guns on campus will be problematic, with too many fundamental issues.
“If there’s an active shooter on campus and you go to help the police, the police don’t know who you are,” Moore said. “If there’s shots fired and the officer is coming in, how is he going to know who you are?”
The bill states that no significant fiscal implication to the state is anticipated. Yet according to fiscal analyses obtained by the Houston Chronicle, UH would need $3 million in its first year of the bill’s implementation and an another $1.2 million annually to create and maintain weapons storage facilities as well as train and hire additional security personnel.
“These costs are entirely fabricated,” Hythier said. “The bills passing would allow CHL holders to carry concealed handguns on their person on campus, eliminating such needs for storage or additional training.”