TAMIU’s 2016 fall semester starts with enthusiasm and the new controversial Campus Carry Law. Since it was accepted by the Texas A&M University System, some doubts have surfaced about whether the law will or will not be beneficial for institutions of higher education. When considering these doubts, it is vital to understand the limits of the Campus Carry Law: it only “allows licensed holders to carry a concealed handgun on a campus of higher education.”
These licensed carriers must be twenty-one years of age, attend a course for professional training, and be certified. Administration and students alike must realize that Campus Carry is not the same as an Open Carry Law, which allows anyone with a license to carry a firearm openly. Campus Carry strictly prohibits this, and as TAMIU Police Chief F. San Miguel stated, “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.” This statement alone provides much insight into the actual guidelines of the Campus Carry Law. Firearms must be hidden at all times, and failure to comply with that will result in an immediate revocation of the license.
There are also many locations within the university that strictly prohibit the presence of any firearms, even licensed ones. As Trevor Liddle, associate vice president for administration and chair of the TAMIU Campus Carry Task Force explained,
“Campus Carry becomes obsolete in areas where the concealed license holder would not be able to readily meet their duties, exclusions zones, student health and counseling centers, and in the science and engineering facilities where the presence of a handgun could have unforeseen complications with science experiments.”
This may be a relief to students and professors alike who were concerned about potential accidents the typical chemistry classroom. These areas of limitations, or “exclusion zones” are another precaution that limit the number of students on the campus who could potentially carry a concealed firearm.
In the event that there were an active shooter causing danger to the university, concealed licensed holders are asked to do one very vital thing: identify themselves to officers. Most of the TAMIU Police Department does not know which students carry concealed weapons. With only seconds to take defensive action, it would be extremely beneficial if the concealed licensed holder were to identify themselves to the officers as quickly as possible. For preventative measures and to avoid accidental shootings, it is best to allow TAMIU PD to take primary action in an emergency. If one concealed holder feels the need to protect fellow classmates, identification before action is wise, and highly recommended by the TAMIU Police Chief and Police Department.
All students and faculty should take strong consideration of what concealed carry is. Concealed carry, in simpler terms, is gun control. To acquire a License to Carry (LTC), a citizen must surrender personal information. The process is nowhere near as simple as purchasing a firearm. LTC holders provide personal identifiable information like their driver’s license/ Texas ID number, address, and criminal record. The application also goes into detail of the addresses the applicant had in the past five years. The same criteria is required for their employment history. Applicants also need to provide their full, digital fingerprints which, at least in Laredo, is processed by a third-party service. The applicants do not need to register their firearm, but as the license holder, they are registered with the state.
Students and faculty should also understand some obvious realities concerning this law’s immediate affect on them. To begin, people of the age of twenty-one and older are allowed to carry a license. That age already excludes a vast amount of people on campus. The second most important fact to consider is that guns are not relatively affordable items. The average handgun, of decent quality, will be about $500 at a local sporting goods store.
This is a sensitive and controversial topic. It is unfortunate that the current climate of American society has ordinary civilians carrying weapons to institutions of higher education. However, as collegiate individuals, it is imperative that we stay informed. This topic should be debated and discussed, but only after it is researched and understood. Students must also understand that those who carry are responsible, due to the privilege that the state has given them. As we enter a new school year, let us take in consideration of that fact that people will be carrying concealed firearms into classes, and let us hope it is for the better.