By Carina Garcia
This fall semester, remember to pack your books, pencils, and license to carry if you have one. Texas Governor Greg Abbot, signed the HB 910, an act permitting open carry on campus for anyone 21 years and over and with a license permit in all State public universities, including Texas A&M International University (TAMIU). The law took effect on Monday, August 1, 2016 and students and faculty have different points of views regarding this issue.
Claudia Zebadua, a TAMIU alumni and faculty member of the Office of Special Programs, says she is against the new law. “I am scared of fire arms in general and you just never know who is carrying and what is going on their heads.” Although the law has been implemented on campus, there are several exclusion zones such as the student health and counseling centers. Having these exclusion zones, does not fail to meet compliance with the state law.
Other students expressed their opinion on the campus carry law. Carolina, a senior majoring in Criminal Justice stated, “I am not sure how to feel about it. Not everyone can afford a gun. So does that leave those that don’t have a weapon defenseless against those who do?” Another undergraduate also in Criminal Justice, Samantha, says that although she is for concealed carry, she does not feel so safe with open carry.
She goes into further detail saying, “We have been conditioned to think “guns” equal “law enforcement agents” who make us feel protected because of their role in society. A local citizen with a visible weapon doesn’t provide us with the same security. We would not only feel nervous, but to some extent, threatened.”
Not everyone disagrees with the campus carry law, however.
Melissa, a TAMIU alumni with a B.A. and M.A. in Literature, states “I feel that open-carry is a resource for students on many campuses. I know that there is a great fear of guns and those wielding them, but there is also a safety in having them available by well trained professionals. While obtaining an open-carry license is something to be reconsidered, mainly due to mental health checks on a regular basis, there is a process that allows very skilled individuals to help in serious cases where their expertise is necessary. I would feel safe knowing that there may be a skilled person in my classroom on campus who could help us in a dire situation, but I also feel that many students would not take it upon themselves to bring their firearm to class even with the license. There is a sense of respect for the school system that I would hope anyone who would bring their firearm would uphold, in order that the student would feel safe when entering their class.”
The fall semester is only three weeks in and the open carry law has been in effect for just over a month. There are still many different perspectives on the issue. Regardless of what one’s opinions are, the truth of the matter is: individuals who have a license and choose to bring their fire arm have the right to do so, so long as they comply with set rules.
For additional information regarding the campus carry law, contact the University Police Department at 956.326.2100 or visit the university website at tamiu.edu.