Campus carry illustration

Opinion column: Campus carry was the right call

[Illustration by Valkyrie Mata]

In 2015, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a controversial law allowing licensed students to carry a concealed handgun on college campuses. At the time, there were extensive protests against the law, such as the laughably stupid “Cocks not Glocks” movement, where students at University of Texas at Austin waved and carried around dildos in an absurd way to compare the open brandishing of controversial objects. Protestors wanted gun owners to feel as ridiculous as they did.

Protestors complained it reduces the safety of students and faculty, stifles free speech and hurts both faculty hiring and students applying. However, two years later, it appears those concerns have been unfounded. It now seems the Republican majority was right to extend Second Amendment rights to college campuses.

Time and time again, it was raised that there would be more violence on college campuses. Professors routinely raised the idea that a student would be frustrated enough to turn a gun on a professor or instructor if a classroom setting got heated. There were some that claimed suicide rates would rise from a group susceptible to stress. Anyone listening to these arguments might have imagined college campuses turning into blood baths if the law passed.

The reality is that there have been almost no incidents from licensed carriers around the state in two years, with the exception of only a couple accidental discharges of a firearm, which while certainly an issue, are a far cry from the supposed rash of violent deaths that liberal politicians and protestors would have people believe was going to occur.

Most gun statistics have stayed exactly the same with researchers pointing to most incidents being from unlicensed people who were already violating the law anyway, such as the perpetrator of the Angelina Hall incident from the end of the previous semester. The suspect was not licensed—and therefore not the fault of campus carry. The incident did not result in injury or death.

There is also no noticeable change or data that backs up the fact that suicide rates have risen. When it comes to violence, campus carry critics were wrong in their assumption suicide rates would rise.

The lack of violence also hurt the argument professors made when they stated it would harm their free speech by not allowing them to discuss controversial topics. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled back in September that for there to be a stifling of free speech, there had to be certainty that the incident would occur, not just speculation. The fact is that simply no incidents under these circumstances have occurred from a legal concealed carry license holder.

Their last argument fell just as flat as the others. There is no indication that Texas colleges are experiencing any kind of brain drain or loss of faculty and the student populations are actually growing. A year after the law came into place, colleges and universities in Texas actually had larger growth than any other state in the nation, with all the major universities experiencing modest growth. Obviously, students do not feel threatened by this policy and are attending college in droves despite the potential exercise of the Second Amendment from their classmates.

Protestors may have claimed the sky was falling but reality tended to be far more boring. All the hyperbolic rhetoric and ridiculous demonstrations were based on falsehoods, speculation and events that never came to pass. The Second Amendment is an important aspect of American society and campus carry supporters in the Texas Legislature were right to extend this right to college students who possessed the necessary license to do so. The ability to protect oneself far outweighs the consequences that never came to pass.

– Jordan Drake is a communications senior

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