With thousands of high school seniors across the country applying for college this fall, many will look at their choices and think twice about considering Texas universities.
While the rest of the states in this country look into having stricter gun laws, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 11 last summer, also known as campus carry, which will allow concealed handgun license holders to carry their weapons on higher education campuses.
In the eyes of Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), author of the bill, the legislation strikes a balance between protecting the right of the individual citizens to keep and bear arms on public property and allowing the discretion of university presidents.
The question is, what good can actually come from a law that will allow people to carry hidden firearms on college campuses?
In order to look at the possible consequences, we must look at past effects from states with fewer gun restrictions.
Shootings, such as in 1976 (California State University), 2007 (Virginia Tech), 2008 (Northern Illinois University) and the most recent in Oregon’s Umpqua Community College and at Northern Arizona University are reminders of what can happen if such restrictions aren’t in place.
And let’s not forget the 1966 massacre in which student Charles Whitman killed 14 people and wounded 32 others during a rampage at the University of Texas at Austin.
Nearly 50 years after that shooting, the campus carry law comes into play and opens a world of unknown deadly possibilities for college campuses across the state.
Under SB 11, which takes effect Aug. 1, 2016, public universities must comply with the law and may establish reasonable rules, regulations, or other provisions regarding the carrying of concealed handguns by licensed holders on campuses, such as the storage of guns in dormitories and the creation of gun- free zones.
How will students sleep, knowing their roommates might have a gun in reach? Even worse, how will students be able to go about their day knowing they have a gun in their dorm and their roommate can have access to it?
University leaders are required to consult with the campus community when creating campus carry rules and regulations. How much will it cost universities to implement extra security measures?
State Rep. Rene Oliveira (D-Brownsville) said in an interview this summer that it will cost the UT System about $39 million to comply with the law.
“Local community college districts could experience increased costs related to campus police operations, security programs, and staff training,” according to the Legislative Budget Board’s fiscal note on the 84th Legislative Session.
Universities will now have to find resources to fund extra safety measures to comply with campus carry.
These questions will be on the minds of public university leaders and campus communities as August 2016 approaches. They will also be taken into consideration as the Class of 2016 high school seniors applies to colleges.