As of Monday, the 1st of August, people licensed to carry handguns are allowed to be armed in most locations on Texas college campuses. This date is also significant as the fiftieth anniversary of the mass shooting committed from the clock tower at the University of Texas in Austin.
The 1966 shooting was committed by a former Marine and UT student who murdered his mother and wife before taking a position on the observation deck of the campus’s clock tower to kill fourteen more and to wound thirty over the course of some ninety minutes. The tower itself was closed in the 70s after it became the site of several suicides and was not reopened until 1999.
Protests are planned at the start of the fall semester, with anti-gun advocates promising to bring sex toys to express their discontent. This is a continuation of the “Cocks Not Glocks” demonstrations from last year. These protests are not only being done by students. Members of the faculty of Texas colleges have also objected, including Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg.
Campus carry has been a particular point of contention in debates over gun rights. Multiple states have passed laws allowing carry license holders to have their firearms with them on campus—in some cases, this is restricted to faculty and staff, while other states have opened carry to anyone who is legally armed. News reports include my state of Arkansas, though the legislature here gave the boards of regents the choice to ban carry, and all of them have done so.
Utah presents us a suggestive, though not entirely clear example of how campus carry can turn out. The state has a shall-issue policy for carry licenses, and in 2004, the legislature clarified that the law allowing carry on state property included schools. And yet, in that time, there have been no campus shootings.
I said that Utah isn’t a definitive case since the state’s homicide rate has consistently been lower than the national average, and the population density of the state is also lower. In addition, Utah students do not seem to consume alcohol in excess.
All of this being said, the lack of shootings does argue against the claims given again and again by advocates of gun control that more guns must equal more deaths. And there’s also the problem for the anti-carry perspective that would-be mass shooters don’t need a license to carry out their intentions. And as I’ve pointed out in the past, given the minimum age for a license, the people carrying legally won’t be drunk freshmen.
To emphasize that point, let’s consider the compromise that gun control supporters so often say they want. How about we allow college employees who are licensed to carry to be armed on campus? We can include training for dealing with an active shooter in a crowded environment, so long as the fee for such training is reasonable. Pass a law allowing this, and see how it goes. The law should include a provision that if after a couple of years we professors haven’t gone nuts, carry will be expanded to anyone with a license.
College campuses are special places, but that doesn’t make them invulnerable to attack. Denying carry rights to good people who are seeking or offering an education only benefits people intent on doing harm.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.