Gun show

A loaded proposition

Texas’ SB 11 harkens back to the frontier days.

By Solomon Smith, Staff Writer

Untrained civilians are not qualified to carry firearms in urban environments without serious and intense training. The military does this as part of their job, and only a small portion of the military trains enough to be considered combat arms—very few of these soldiers specialize in the difficult area of urban combat. Texas has opted to go in the opposite direction.

Texas enacted Senate Bill 11, allowing licensed individuals to carry concealed weapons into the classrooms of any public, private or independent institution of higher education. Plainly speaking, this means that effective August 1, anyone with a license can carry a concealed weapon into the classroom of a Texas college campus. One of the most well-known school shootings happened on the University of Austin campus in 1966. Charles Joseph Whitman killed 14 people and wounded 32 in an hour-and-a-half period before being shot and wounded himself. The irony of this seems to elude Texas lawmakers.

Campuses are required to draft their own policies on how to handle firearms in classrooms that are “reasonable” and in compliance with the law, and schools are unsurprisingly having a difficult time coming up them. Advisers have listed guidelines for dealing with the new law that amount to being careful in class and simply “not going there.” Gun-violence-survivor groups and activists from all over the country have written to Texas representatives, begging them not to pass SB11. Rep. Helen Giddings, D-DeSoto, argued against the bill from every angle, and included the voices of victims of gun violence on campus in her reasoning.

The bill does everything it can to make it easier for schools to avoid responsibility for shootings on campus. It limits liability for campuses through a biannual reporting process, and explicitly states that institutions are limited in liability, since they are following the statute as required by law. The bill sets out provisions relating to limitation of liability for applicable institutions of higher education and their officers and employees under statutory provisions governing concealed handgun licenses. Everyone is covered except for students.

The problem with American gun control is illustrated well in this policy: a lack of rational discussion coupled with a hopeful, and ultimately unrealistic, wishing away of the problem. To be clear, guns do not belong in centers of learning. The right to carry a gun is not, and should not be, absolute and without restraint. We create policy to guide us in our restraint, whether it’s how fast we can drive, when we can say what we want—it is a felony to impersonate a police officer—or even our personal lives. It should be the same with a tool designed to kill humans.

The humor of the situation in Texas has slowly given way to horror, and this new law is a tragedy in the making. Classrooms that are only one or two years removed from high school, where gun violence has rapidly become a concern for Americans, are now going to be peppered with guns in the great state of Texas.

Texas is addressing a nonissue. It is ridiculous for us to disperse death-dealing tools throughout an immature populace in a stressful environment, with little to no real guidance. School shootings, regardless of where they occur, are a national tragedy and affect all of us. Texas issued about 217,588 concealed carry licenses in 2015 alone, not to mention those who already have a CCL. That is a lot of guns around a lot of young people who just learned about credit cards and alcohol—that disturbs me. We have learned so little from our past mistakes. We flaunt our lack of growth through these ridiculous laws and our children pay the price.

I like guns. I like them in the hands of trained people, who have been vetted through a policy that includes background checks. I like guns in the hands of responsible individuals in their own homes and at the shooting range. The classroom of a college campus is not where guns belong.

Your thoughts?