This and That: The Implications of Guns on Campus
The Texas legislature voted to allow guns within all public university buildings in Texas in June, with the legislation set to take effect in August – just in time for the new school year. The bill was welcomed by supporters of concealed carry rights, but many people have condemned the bill for negatively affecting education. I must agree with the latter camp; allowing concealed carry of guns on campuses is irresponsible and will be detrimental to education in Texas.
In the wake of the bill’s passage, campuses have been training professors on how to conduct themselves with students come August. One particular slide from a presentation at the University of Houston recently went viral; it recommended that professors limit student access outside of class time, dropping certain topics from their curriculums, and to take caution when discussing sensitive topics. These recommendations harm the educational environment. College courses should be about discussing topics that may be sensitive, and topics should not have to be entirely eliminated out of fear of violent retaliation. Certain topics that need to be discussed – say policy recommendations in a political science course, or ethical debates in an ethical theory class – and cannot be eliminated entirely. Professor pushback and inter-student debates breed growth and development. Access to professors outside of class also helps to further learning and to assist students who may be struggling; with limited office hours, it may be more difficult for students to develop relationships with professors or get the help they need. Professors may be less inclined to give poor grades to students who did not perform well, out of fear that the student could snap and retaliate violently. As written in an op-ed on CNN, the law threatens the essence of education itself.
Outside of the academic realm, the law is also detrimental for student safety. The state is also at risk of experiencing a brain drain, as prominent professors and top students may feel the need to move in order to feel safer. Additionally, it has been argued that increasing the amount of guns on campuses through expanding concealed carry laws will lead to increased sexual assaults, a crime that already plagues college campuses nationwide. Since 73% of concealed carry permit holders are men, and a woman’s risk of death in a domestic violence situation triples when a gun is introduced, the statistics point to a case for worry. Although concealed carry permit holders are less likely to be convicted of crimes, the crimes they are convicted of are predominantly related to sexual violence. Some studies have shown that increases of sexual violence have occurred when the number of guns on campus increased; if not, they found that it does not decrease it, at least. Even if the number of guns on campus does not increase sexual violence, it may very well decrease the student body’s feeling of safety. Knowing that a gun could be involved in a confrontational situation will naturally make people feel less secure. Personally, I would feel unsettled if I knew that people in my residence hall had guns; especially considering that even if the user is responsible, it would now be infinitely easier for someone who should not have a gun to gain access to a gun if they are friends with gun owners that have them on campus.
The passing of campus carry legislation is irresponsible, and will have negative implications on both the academic and student life aspects of Texas universities. Allowing guns causes a lack of security in a place that should be secure for students. In the wake of the numerous campus shootings that have taken place in the past few years, legally allowing more guns on campus seems counterintuitive, and simply not logical.