Members of the public had a chance to voice their opinions Wednesday evening on recommendations for the implementation of Senate Bill 11 at an event created by Texas State’s Campus Carry Task Force.
Students, faculty and community members attended the public forum to discuss their opinions on the draft recommendations for implementation of the legislation that were released last week. .
The purpose of the event was for the task force to hear the community’s feedback on the draft.
The final recommendations will eventually be shown to President Denise Trauth and then be submitted to the Texas State University Board of Regents for approval or denial.
There were approximately 65 individuals present at the open forum, and less than 18 speakers. The speakers included Texas State students, faculty and city residents.
Most of the faculty members who spoke said they had concerns about classrooms not being included in the carve-out zones—areas where guns will not be permitted—when SB 11 goes into effect next fall.
“We shouldn’t be afraid to come to class, and staff and faculty shouldn’t be afraid to come to work,” said David Eisenberg, communication studies junior.
He said campus carry could pressure students and faculty to feel censored by the knowledge that individuals in their classroom may have guns-.
The meeting space of the Board of Regents is recommended to be a carve-out zone. Margaret Menninger, associate history professor, said this is because the board members sometimes make controversial decisions, such as tuition increases.
“I find that to be a very disappointing statement about what is valued and what is not valued,” Menninger said.
Menninger was not the only faculty member to express similar concerns.
“There are many of us on this campus that make similar decisions that upset people,” said Ann Watkins, chair of the Department of Accounting. “And guns aren’t appropriate.”
The Board of Regents is already protected by the Texas penal code, Watkins said.
“I resent that we really haven’t had a voice or a say,” Watkins said. “We’ve been told that this is what’s going to happen.”
C.J. Grisham, president and founder of Open Carry Texas, said the task force should reconsider making the regent’s meeting area a gun-free zone. Grisham said he has attended state legislative sessions as a licensed concealed gun holder.
“If it’s good enough for our legislature and it’s good enough for city councils all over the country, then it’s good enough for the regents to trust concealed license handgun holders,” Grisham said.
Some individuals said they support stronger regulations and the expansion of gun-free zones.
Sonja Mlenar, instructional programs coordinator with the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, said the center should be recommended as a carve-out zone because children often visit on field trips.
Allowing guns in residence halls can lead to an increase in suicides, said Emma Brockway, English sophomore.
“All the draft recommendations to SB 11 are crucial, but we need more restrictions to ensure the safety of this campus,” Brockway said.
Board members were seated among audience to observe the open forum and some community members said they are concerned about the safety of gun-free zones.
David Huffman, biology professor, said the majority of mass shootings in the country occur in gun-free zones.
“We have an illusion that making gun-free zones is going to mean that there’s no guns allowed,” Huffman said. “It just means there are no legal guns allowed.”
The lack of licensed individuals with guns means people will be unprotected in the case of an incident, said Naomi Narvaiz, president of the San Marcos Area Republicans Texans Group.
“It bothers me a lot to know that there are some places that are going to be carved out and are going to be gun-free,” Narvaiz said. “Those people there aren’t going to have the safety they need.”