Two bills (SB 11 and HB 937) currently pending before the Texas Legislature would legalize the licensed concealed carry of handguns on Texas college campuses. These twelve questions undergird the logic behind “campus carry” legislation:
1. Why should a trained, licensed, carefully screened adult (age 21 or above) be allowed to carry a concealed handgun at a movie theater on Friday, at a shopping mall on Saturday, and in a church on Sunday but be prohibited from doing so in a college classroom on Monday?
2. Why should that same license holder be allowed to carry a concealed handgun at a municipal library but not a college library, at a health club but not a campus recreation center, and at a restaurant but not a university dining hall?
3. Does licensed concealed carry inhibit free expression in Texas churches or prevent heated debates in the Texas Capitol—two places where concealed carry is currently allowed?
4. Given that college campuses are open environments with uncontrolled points of entry (no metal detectors or bag checks) and that a person could just as easily walk into a classroom carrying a backpack full of guns as carrying a backpack full of books, why should a professor be more concerned about issuing a bad grade to someone who might secretly be a trained, tested, carefully vetted license holder carrying a gun LEGALLY than to someone who might secretly be an untrained, untested, unvetted criminal carrying a gun ILLEGALLY?
5. Given that the debate is about changing WHERE concealed handgun license (CHL) holders can carry guns and would not change WHO can carry a gun, why do opponents spend so much time talking about the relative immaturity of college students?
6. Given that 90% of suicides occur in the victim’s home, that most students over the age of 21 live off-campus, that the pending legislation would allow universities to regulate the storage of firearms in on-campus housing, and that CHL holders are already allowed to keep handguns in locked vehicles parked on campus, what is the factual basis for claiming that campus carry would lead to an increase in student suicides?
7. Given that the legalization of campus carry would not change the laws at fraternity houses, off-campus parties, tailgating events, or bars—the places where students (particularly those old enough to obtain a CHL) are most likely to drink—why do opponents spend so much time talking about the dangers of mixing guns and alcohol?
8. How could three to ten SECONDS of exchanged gunfire (the average length of a gunfight, according to most experts) possibly result in greater loss of life than a three- to ten-MINUTE uncontested, execution-style massacre? Put another way, how could a few seconds of an assailant and a CHL holder shooting at each other possibly be worse than several minutes of the assailant walking up and down classroom aisles, shooting people in the head (sometimes multiple times) at pointblank range?
9. If most shootouts are over in three to ten seconds, what are the odds of police encountering an ongoing shootout and being unable to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys?
10. Given that CHL holders would be required to keep their guns concealed unless facing an IMMEDIATE threat, how significant is the risk of police mistaking a good guy for a bad guy?
11. Given that more than 150 U.S. college campuses currently allow licensed concealed carry and have done so for a combined total of almost 1,500 fall/spring semesters, without a single resulting assault or suicide, what makes opponents think the same vetted, licensed adults who aren’t causing trouble elsewhere in Texas will cause trouble on Texas college campuses?
12. What is the benefit of a state law or school policy that stacks the odds in favor of any criminal or psychopath willing to ignore state law and school policy?
Madison D. Welch, a recent graduate of Texas A&M University, serves as the Southwest regional director for Students for Concealed Carry.