Don’t fear the weapon
Fear will shroud the campus. Intimidation will reign. The Wild West will rise with hellish fury.
Or maybe not.
Texas campus carry and open carry bills wait for Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature. Then, after about a year, open and campus carry will be a reality in Texas.
And Abbott will sign. For gun-rights activists this is an assured victory, and for their opposition, it is time for damage control. Right?
You do not need a permit to purchase any firearm in Texas, according to the National Rifle Association.
You do not need a permit to carry rifles or shotguns. You do need one for handguns.
These bills will alter the status of carrying. Instead of a concealed handgun, someone who satisfies the requirements will be able to carry their firearm in the open.
But President Khator, along with the Board of Regents, will have the chance to decide if and where gun-free zones will be on the UH campus.
So here’s the deal: if you have a legal open carry permit, and you are in an area on campus that is designated as a gun zone, then everything is kosher if you want to walk around with your handgun in your holster.
But many people who support campus carry see these bills as a loss because of the powers granted to university administrators.
“We at Students for Concealed Carry would appreciate if the bill’s authors and sponsors would quit confusing the issue by claiming a victory for our side,” said the group’s board of directors.
“We don’t need to hide behind a gutted bill to save face. We’ll try again in 2017.”
Arguments for and against:
“A lot of people are talking about the safety in the schools, but the one thing you have to remember is that the threats don’t stop just because you walk into a college campus,” said Lars Dalseide, a public affairs media liaison for the NRA.
“It will definitely make campuses safer. Texas joins seven other states that have campus carry. There haven’t been any problems at all with those.”
But whereas some think open carry and campus carry laws will make the world safer, the opposite is happening.
According to the Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus, “since all public colleges in Colorado have been forced to allow campus carry (2012-2013), the rate of rape has increased 25% in 2012 and 36% in 2013 (15.2 and 20.8 per 100,000 respectively).”
With so many shootings occurring in this decade, and in this fresh millennium, guns create massive waves of paranoia.
“The idea that this is going to be some sort of return to the Wild West is just complete fallacy,” Dalseide said. “When people get their concealed carry permits they are amongst the safest, if not the safest, gun owners in the U.S.”
Both sides are motivated by fear. Fear for their safety leads them to need or abhor guns.
The next step
Such distress leads us to forget that students will be most affected by the campus carry bill.
It is scary to think of being in class with peers who have loaded guns.
Jonathon Panzer of Texas Gun Sense said emotionally charged situations will become edgy and intimidating when one or both of the parties have a deadly weapon, even if the possession is legal.
Panzer’s problem is that “a lot can happen in a year. A lot can happen in six months.”
Medical, mental or emotional changes in one’s life can change their status from a safe gun owner to a dangerous one.
But without at least an annual background check, no one will know until the violence starts.
Guns are weapons. They were invented for the sole purpose of death. They were improved so that they could do a better job at killing.
Pro-gun activists need to be aware of this, and understanding of the fear guns inspire.
People who believe in their right to own and carry guns need to find better arguments. Safety depends on responsibility across the citizenry, and on diligence in the matter of issuing permits.
Or let’s just go back to the Wild West for real, and hope we all come out unscathed. A few casualties is nothing when our ‘right to bear arms’ is threatened.
Opinion editor Henry Sturm is a print journalism senior and may be reached at [email protected]