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Sunday, June 26, 2022


Guest column: the Second Amendment or safety?

A little more than a week ago, I began a crusade to oppose SB11, more commonly referred to as campus carry.

Universities like Texas Tech University joined the gun-free movements with their own petition. Fifty faculty signed on almost immediately.

Based off of the “Gun Free UT” movement, which has garnered more than 6,000 signatures and hundreds of supporters, including entire academic departments, “Gun Free UH” has begun to gain momentum here in Houston.

From what I’ve gathered in my conversations with faculty, they are grateful someone is speaking up. They are nervous, too. They feel like sitting ducks. No one, they sense, has their backs.

At Faculty Senate meetings, I am told, there is nervous laughter among colleagues and morbid jokes are not uncommon.

“Maybe we should install a chemistry lab in every building,” joked one faculty member making light of the fact that some areas which made use of oxygen tanks would be off-limits to gun wielders, since a spark could ignite an explosive event.

There are safety issues involving the doors of classroom locks, windows that are permanently sealed and more. There is no clear or practical policy in place to deal with an active shooter situation.

A review of the UHPD website shows its current “training” against an active shooter consists of an offer to come to classes to show videos or PowerPoint presentations.  Their tips can be boiled down to “run, hide, fight,” but how can this help an instructor in a classroom armed only with whiteboard markers when they are trapped inside with windows that do not open and doors that aren’t lockable from inside?

The fight or flee strategy did not help any of the students or instructors who’ve been slaughtered at any of the mass shootings – and all of whom did try to flee or hide.

In the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, the only kindergartner to survive of the nineteen gunned down did so by playing dead among her slain classmates who had been herded into a bathroom by their teacher in a desperate attempt to flee and hide from the killer.

In the recent Opaqua Community College case, at least one valiant soul, Chris Mintz, who is U.S. Army veteran, tried to fight and took seven bullets for his bravery.

He survived, but eight of his peers were slaughtered, and nine others were injured.

The one good guy with a gun on campus nearby was rightfully and sensibly too concerned with being mistaken by police as a shooter to get involved and kept his distance.

In less than a year, campus carry will become a reality. This new permissiveness allowing Concealed Handgun Licensees to roam freely about the campus isn’t likely to save lives any more than it did at UCC.

In fact, it may increase not only the risk of accidental shootings, but also have a stifling effect on how instructors hold class since some instructors already worry that certain topics may trigger negative reactions.

Shootings are not only unpredictable, but CHL holders are untrained and lack tactical focus and the control with which military and police are equipped.

Why does this rationale persist?

Because the myth of being a hero is every boy’s dream, and patriotism is enchanting.

Who doesn’t want to distinguish himself and save himself along with others to earn his laurels from the village townspeople? Our video games, movies and TV shows tell us this is a real possibility. Just point and shoot. Bad guy falls dead.

But, those are fantasies.

In the real world, people are dying, spilling real blood. The funerals and the heartaches are real. The criminals committing these atrocities are not actors in makeup and costumes but disturbed individuals.

Last year, according to the Texas DPS demographic data over 160 CHL applications were approved. That’s a four-fold increase of CHL licenses granted since 2004, and, according to HPD statistics, crimes have not decreased.

Since starting these efforts to protest Campus Carry, many regional directors of national Gun Control groups have reached out to me with offers to help. Among them is one women who, along with President and Chancellor Renu Khator, received a prestigious award at a recent luncheon for her national work to help end gun violence.

To improve my efforts, I have also joined a new intercollegiate group of students doing work on their campuses to decrease gun violence. One of our leaders is a woman whose mother was killed at Sandy Hook. She turned her grief outward.

Meanwhile, scholars from Georgia are wondering out loud about UT and UH’s liability issues. Texas is sorting through the process of implementing campus carry.

No student should ever be asked to compromise his sense of safety just so his peer or instructor can brag about his Second Amendment rights.

I welcome your interest and inquiries and hope that you will join our efforts. Please leave the holster off campus, though. We’re not in a Wild West show.

Alex Colvin is a history senior and administrator for the “Gun Free UH” group on Facebook.

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