Concerns vocalized by people who do not support the campus carry bill have recently drawn media attention. However, not everyone opposes the new law allowing those with a concealed handgun license to carry on university campuses across the state come next fall.
Senate Bill 11 was passed in the most recent legislative year. The bill made it legal for concealed handgun license holders to carry their weapon onto any public university. The law goes into effect in August 2016 and, in the meantime, public universities around the state are drafting policies to deal with implementing the new legislation.
Many of those who support campus carry are CHL holders themselves. Supporters argue that allowing handguns on campus will make the university safer.
“There have been too many tragedies around the country committed by people who are not permit holders at universities,” said Robert Habingreither, interim dean of the college of science and engineering. “It’s only a matter of time till it happens here…I’m a big believer of being able to protect oneself.”
A lot of the concerns vocalized by faculty are coming from those who do not have any experience with firearms, Habingreither said.
“It is a God-given right to bear arms,” said Naomi Narvaiz, president of the San Marcos Area Republican Texans Group. “I believe in enforcing the Second Amendment because once a right is taken away from us, it is hard to restore.”
Andy Batey, department chair of engineering technology, said people who are afraid of campus carry are afraid of the wrong people.
“A concealed handgun license holder is not a source of carnage, but a source of safety,” Batey said.
Habingreither said he supports campus carry because he believes in always rendering aid, even during an extreme situation like a school shooting.
“I don’t believe in letting people take advantage of other people,” Habingreither said. “I wouldn’t stand there and let someone shoot someone else.”
A concealed handgun holder would provide resistance against a shooter if a police officer was not in the room, Batey said. Even if a concealed handgun holder could not kill the criminal assailant, they would at least slow them down, potentially saving lives.
“Police are not paid to protect, they are paid to enforce the law,” Habingreither said. “When you think about that, that sheds a whole new light on campus carry.”
Batey said one of the main concerns he’s heard is from faculty members who are afraid to interact with students.
Batey said CHL holders are not violent people. He said the campus carry law is not going to inspire violence against faculty members.
“If you hand a police officer your concealed carry permit when you hand them your license, they would let out a sigh of relief,” Habingreither said. “They will know you’re a law abiding citizen.”
Habingreither said one of the most ridiculous things he has heard is the argument that gunpowder in a firearm could catch on fire just by being near chemicals in a lab situation.
Batey said the only danger would be if someone shot their gun at a criminal assailant and hit a compressed air tank. In an active shooter situation, there would be more danger in not having a CHL holder there, he said.
Batey said CHL holders are not walking safety risks. A holder would only take out their gun if their life was in danger.
Both Habingreither and Batey said gun-free zones designated by the university, called carve-out zones, pose potential problems for the university.
Batey said he would agree to make the child development center a gun-free zone, but only if the university posted an armed guard there at all times.
“No one was there to defend the students at Newtown,” Batey said. “If the university doesn’t protect the childhood development center, it’s just another Newtown waiting to happen.”
He said any zone Texas State chooses to carve out would become the university’s responsibility to protect.
“I think a lot of the arguments that support carve-out zones are fictitious and contrived to prevent people from being able to carry,” Batey said.
Habingreither said the issue boils down to trust. He said the university needs to trust that those with a CHL are responsible enough to carry a weapon around campus.
Narvaiz said concealed carry is important on campus, because it gives women a way to protect themselves from rape or assault, should the situation arise.
A CHL holder herself, Narvaiz feels safer with her gun. She said people carry concealed all over Texas and rarely cause problems.
“I think there is a good amount of support for it,” Narvaiz said. “People just don’t speak up because of the stigma that adults that carry are dangerous.”