EL PASO – The Texas Legislature is considering allowing students and professors with concealed handgun licenses to carry their firearms on college campuses. The bill in draft form has been approved by committee and is headed to the Texas House for a vote, where a majority favors the measure
In 2009 a similar bill failed in the Texas State Legislature. This year though, gun control advocates say that it will be more difficult to stop this bill. If passed and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry as expected, Texas would become the second state after Utah to approve this type of legislation.
The topic of firearms on campuses is of growing concern for everyone possibly affected, whether students, parents of a student, faculty and staff at a college or university or members of the police forces responsible for the safety and security of everyone on campus.
Students and faculty members here at the University of Texas at El Paso expressed the following opinions and concerns:
“I don’t agree with it,” said Evi Marquez, a student, “because I think it would be another threat especially with the war going on across the border with the drugs and everything and you know its been said that people come and use the cars here at UTEP as a loading zone for the drugs and as far as for bringing weapons into that it would be so much more dangerous that you never know what could happen. It’s not worth it.”
“I’m not overly concerned,” said Cameron Wilson, undergraduate student in the College of Education, “because I understand that there’s an extensive background check that goes behind acquiring the concealed firearm and it has a fee that you have to renew every year and so forth, so I don’t feel that people that are qualified to have the concealed firearm permit are a danger to other student’s on campus.”
“It’s perhaps the most moronic notion I have ever heard coming from politicians and that’s saying a lot,” said David Smith-Soto, senior lecturer in multimedia journalism at UTEP. “Adding more guns just makes for a more volatile mix. In the split second required to act in an emergency, the good guys and the bad guys can look alike and innocent persons will likely get shot in the crossfire. That’s why we have trained law-enforcement officers. The state is supposed to protect its citizens, not put them in harm’s way. ”
“ I think the cases where a professor or student would have to defend himself or herself on this campus against someone else with a weapon would be far greater if everyone were permitted to carry weapons,” said George Barton, Director of UTEP’s Career Center, “generally speaking we have a pretty safe campus and I’d like to think that we can allow our own police force to protect us. I think they’ve done a great job of it.”
“I’d feel safe and secure,” said Ezekiel Carter, student at El Paso Community College, “If I could, I’d carry a weapon myself, but its like I would say if your responsible then I would safely suggest you can have a firearm, but only if you respect the weapon. Any guy can have a gun and shoot himself. So I would say if you know how to handle a gun and respect the gun and everything then I would say yes have a firearm on you.”