On Virginia Tech Anniversary, Texas Gun Debate Continues

Campuses can be high-stress and emotional places. Should students have greater access to extreme solutions?

On the second anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting, the Texas legislature is debating a bill that offers a controversial way of preventing a similar situation in Texas: allowing guns on campus.

For many, this day of remembrance has become a day to support a cause. At the University of Texas at Austin, advocates, university officials, faculty and members of the community will hold a walk-out and march to the steps of the capitol to hold a public rally in opposition to the bill that would affect them greatly. Though the bill is designed to protect them, they see it doing just the opposite.

“The tragedy is being exploited by the gun lobby in Texas and other states to push its dangerous agenda to expand the carrying of concealed guns into college campuses,” the North Texas Chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the organizer of the event, said in their flier.

The rally is the strongest recourse for college and university administrators, educators and campus law enforcement officials, because state law prohibits them from lobbying state legislature.

Jared Sherer, former Addison SWAT member, Collin College of McKinney professor of emergency medical services (EMT) and CHL carrier, believes from his training that legally armed students could defuse a dangerous situation faster than police, who require more time to respond.

“I support the legislation also coming from an instructor perspective. I have had students act out violently in an argumentative manner. They’ve stormed out over a failing grade and it’s going through my head, ‘Is he going to get the gun now?’”

He does note that when police arrive on a campus with a dangerous situation and see anyone with a gun, they can only assume the carrier is dangerous, which could cause confusion and added bloodshed for innocent carriers.

A critical question is whether any constitutional rights are gained from a state legislature stripping the rights of private institutions to decide at their discretion whether they want to permit concealed handguns on their premises (which the vocal majority does not), in order to allow individuals to supposedly more freely express their Second Amendment rights.

Holly LaFon is a Dallas journalist who has written and worked for various local publications including D magazine and Examiner.

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