EL PASO — A few hours after James Lance Boulware, 35, riddled Dallas police headquarters with gunfire on June 13, Texas governor Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that allows individuals to legally carry concealed firearms on university campuses.
There was plenty of shooting that day in the streets of Dallas where Boulware was shot dead by a police sniper and also later at Red’s Indoor Range in Pflugerville, Texas, where Abbott, relishing the added liberty he said he was bestowing upon the citizens of Texas, did some target shooting of his own after signing the bills.
Boulware had legal ownership of the firearms he used to attack the police station. In fact, authorities had once confiscated the very same weapons after Boulware was jailed briefly two years ago for threatening his family, schools and churches.
According to news reports, the arms included a hunting rifle fitted with a telescopic sight, a 12-gauge shotgun and two handguns, a .45-caliber revolver, and a 9-millimeter, semi-automatic pistol as well as hundreds of bullets.
A few months after his release from jail, assault charges against Boulware were dropped and a judge ordered authorities to return the guns to their legal owner — Boulware.
Which brings me around to the so called “campus carry” legislation the governor signed into law. The law would allow Boulware and any other legal owner of legal firearms to conceal them and carry them onto a public university campus in Texas.
I don’t want those guns in my classroom.
I write this in the shadow of the recent gun massacre in a black church in Charleston. The motives of the racist killer are clear and the suffering of the poor people — the victims and their loved ones — is unbearable.
How the killer acquired the gun is not clear yet. He apparently received it as a present on his 21st birthday. But the legality of the acquisition of this firearm is almost beside the point in a nation of 300-million guns.
Firearms in America can pass on from person to person like an Ebola virus in Africa and like the Ebola virus the ultimate consequence, death, follows closely behind.
But even now, in this human tragedy, a National Rifle Association official had to hammer in their twisted refrain – more guns save lives.
The Washington Post reported that Charles L. Cotton a National Rifle Association board member who also publishes TexasCHLForum.com commented after the massacre that the church pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, shared in the blame for the deaths because, according to Cotton, “… he voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.”
Imagine the gentle folk in the pews of that house of worship sitting next to the skinny white stranger with an angel face and bowl hair for a time before he pulled out the forty-five and killed nine of the faithful. Can you imagine them whipping out handguns and shooting it out in the quiet bible-study church?
And later, the agonizing relatives of the dead tell the killer they forgive him because he is also a child of God. Imagine these people of faith engaging in a gunfight.
No, in a civilized society of laws we must depend on law enforcement to battle the gunmen. And it is not our job as university professors either to engage in gun battles in our classrooms. That is why I consider the “campus carry” law a betrayal by our elected officials. Instead of protecting us they are putting us in danger.
I repeat, I don’t want guns in my classroom. And I pray that before the law that Abbott signed goes into effect next year that it will be challenged in the courts and hopefully be subject to injunction until sanity returns to Texas.