Melissa Castro, a new staff member for The Bridge News, also contributed to this report.
The recently established Campus Carry Law comes into effect on August 1, 2016. It has has been raising eyebrows from Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) students.
On April 27, 2016, The Texas A&M University System (TAMUS) Board of Regents accepted to comply with the law governing Campus Carry in all campuses including Texas A&M International University.
TAMIU President Dr. Ray Keck states, “We are an agency of the State of Texas and are required by law to comply with the applicable Texas law. Our rules for the campus will be in place with the law’s activation later this year.”
According to the Senate Bill 11, Campus Carry Law allows license holders to carry a concealed handgun on any campus of higher education private or independent in the state of Texas. Despite the approval of Senate Bill 11 by the TAMU Board of Regents, some TAMIU students still have some concerns on of carrying weapons on campus.
In a recent 2016 TAMIU survey on campus carry, one student responded under the alias Henry responded, “Campus carry will not make the campus safer. We already have people committing crimes on parking lots over parking spaces. Most minor altercations would immediately escalate if both people were to possess firearms.” Another TAMIU student, Matthew Wirsching, states, “I am strongly for it. I think every person has the right to defend their own life and not have to rely on government to protect themselves”.
Renee Mares, English major at TAMIU explains how, “It goes back to the safety precaution where students might abuse this law. So maybe it is best if P.D. is the only one to carry concealed weapons.”
G.P. Franco, another TAMIU student acknowledged the new gun law are a positive measure.
“I believe it is a great step forward for addressing the threat of school shootings that have occurred in recent years as students and faculty will now have the ability to be able to protect fellow students and visitors should an immediate situation arise.”
TAMIU Police Chief Fructuoso San Miguel ensures that precautions have been taken by TAMIU P.D. which include mock drills which involve active shooters, and a freshman active shooting course on TrainTraq which will prepare students on how to respond in the case of an active shooting.
Chief San Miguel quotes, “Let’s keep in mind that this is not open carry. There has been a misunderstanding that people are going to be walking around like in the Old Western Days. Campus carry must be concealed in a holster which concealed licensed holders should understand.”
San Miguel also acknowledged the complications this could bring between those who carry and police officer, especially during an emergency.
“What we have discussed here that we hope they identify themselves (concealed holders) because we don’t want an accidental shooting where we don’t know who is the bad guy. If we don’t know the officer will have seconds to think good guy or bad guy? So the officer may accidentally shoot the wrong person, or the officer might get shoot. So there is pros and cons to this. “
The weapon cannot be openly displayed and failure to comply with concealed standards will result in an immediate revoke of license. San Miguel also makes certain that all TAMIU P.D. use their, “discretion” before pointing out who might be an active shooter to prevent accidents. TAMIU P.D. undergoes various active shooter trainings through different agencies in order to prepare for such an event.
Trevor Liddle, TAMIU associate vice president for administration and chair of TAMIU Campus Carry Task Force, reminds the community of specifics that are meant to enhance the safety of the campus through the Task Force. For example, Campus carry becomes obsolete in “areas where the concealed license holder would not be able to readily meet their duties, exclusion zones that TAMIU rules creates, student health and counseling centers, and in science and engineering facilities where the presence of a handgun could have unforeseen complications with science experiments”.
The gun debate has been a hot topic in American society. Every so often, another mass shooting happens causing the death of innocent people including children. Texas, being a Republican state, is usually very considerate on their citizens’ Second Amendment rights.
Now, as most people understand or should understand, a gun is not a patriotic item or symbol. It is a tool, designed in heavy detail, to cause death or serious bodily harm. That is its ultimate purpose. Guns do not shield from danger. They are used to for force protection. They are used for an offensive defense. That being said, those who do decide to carry after August 1 are going to have to always remember this when they carry.
There are also some realities that TAMIU students must also consider. As San Miguel stated, this is concealed carry. There are rules to concealed carry. To obtain a license, a person must be twenty-one years or older. That already eliminates the eighteen, nineteen, and twenty year olds in the university. That already reduces a significant amount of students who would be eligible to carry. To obtain a license, one must attend a course, and be properly trained before being given the privilege. The course, itself, runs close to $200 in fees. On top of all that, students would have to go a purchase a handgun which usually pushes at $500. The average student may consider paying for a new car or new phone before purchasing a gun. Also, the cost of tuition may further deter students from purchasing a gun.
Lastly, concealed carry requires that the weapon be hidden at time. As trivial as it may sound, the added responsibility to concealed carry only adds to the stress of university life. That being, expect for a select type of character to be carrying a concealed weapon.
At the end of the day, the type of students would likely be carrying concealed weapons are going to be the off-duty police officers and border patrol agents who attend classes, military veterans, and generally older individuals. Under that notion, students are likely to feel comfortable knowing that these individuals are the ones carrying.
However, universities are sacred institutions of knowledge, and no one should come to a place of learning with violence in their hearts. Sadly, that is all very idealistic, and the reasons behind owning a gun is another debate for another time. In light of this news, those who felt a new arms race was coming to TAMIU should feel less cynical when given the proper information.