In the 24 years since the shooting at Columbine High School, students have experienced increased anxiety when stepping onto their campuses. Unfortunately, a new change in Texas' gun policy has the potential to make this anxiety worse for students across the state.

In 2022, a judge ruled that prohibiting people aged 18-20 from carrying was unconstitutional. Before this ruling, Texans had to wait until they were 21. Still, now, anyone 18 and above is eligible for a license to carry a concealed handgun on public university campuses. As lawmakers in other states raise the minimum age to buy an assault rifle to 21 in response to mass shootings, Texas legislators pander to the gun lobby, which funds large portions of their campaigns.

There is no reason students should feel the need to carry on college campuses. Universities already have precautions in place that look out for the safety of students. At Texas State, for example, we have the University Police Department and emergency call boxes.

This change in licensing across the state should not be allowed to go into effect because it makes college campuses and businesses more dangerous and makes students live in fear.

Those with a license can also carry into some businesses and across state lines. Advocates for gun rights argue that young adults have "the same constitutionally protected right to bear arms as all other adults," according to the Texas Tribune.

If anything, the age restriction to carry a weapon in Texas should be 21. According to the National Library of Medicine, the human brain is not entirely done developing until 25 years of age. Yet, the median age of school shooters is only 16 years old.

Gun fax infographic

According to the Washington Post, of the 196 shooters who killed four or more people since 1966, only five were women. The prefrontal cortex is essential to controlling impulses and comprehending the consequences of one's actions. However, teens are more likely to act on impulse because the mind is not yet fully developed, which is especially true in young men, which provides some explanation as to why they are the majority demographic of school shooters.

There is debate on what constitutes a mass shooting, but multiple sources, including the Gun Violence Archive, define it as an incident in which a minimum of four victims were killed or injured. Texas has seen an increase in mass shootings and currently leads the country in school shootings.

The instance now known as the first ever modern mass shooting took place at the University of Texas at Austin in 1966. Since then, there have been 12 shootings on college campuses and over 300 instances of gunfire, according to Best Colleges. If Texas doesn't implement more effective legislation, college students have every reason to worry about their safety on campus.

The Republican Party has continuously loosened Texas gun laws, making guns easily accessible throughout the state. Even after horrifying mass shootings like that of Uvalde, the GOP fails to enforce gun restrictions in the state. Lawmakers should not still feel the need to make these weapons even more accessible.

Allowing young adults access to handguns also has the potential to increase rates of suicide on college campuses. According to an article from CBS news, 90% of suicide attempts with a gun result in death, while attempts without a gun only result in death 4% of the time. The rate of youth suicide by firearm is the highest in over 20 years, according to information from Everytown.

Deaths by firearms can be prevented by not putting the weapon in young people's hands. Texas legislators need to step back and take a minute to look at the impact access to guns honestly has had on this state as a whole.

Strict gun laws are necessary. Without them, the state's public health is in for a decline. Students should have more of a right to feel safe on their campuses than to carry concealed weapons

- Rhian Davis is a journalism freshman

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