Whoever is elected in one week as state representative, either incumbent Patrick Rose or challenger Jason Isaac, Bobcats will have another legislator who supports concealed carry on campuses.
Texas law currently prohibits concealed carry on campuses, though this has been challenged in the past.
The most recent challenger was Texas Sen. Jeff Wentworth (R-25). Wentworth authored Senate Bill 1164 in May 2009, which would allow students to carry concealed weapons into buildings on campus.
The bill passed in the Senate, but failed in the House.
John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, is an advocate of concealed carry on campus and was scheduled to speak at the University of Texas Sept. 28, the day of the recent shooting incident.
Lott said multiple-shooter incidents can be deterred by allowing students to carry on campus. He said his research indicates shooters either plan on committing suicide or dying at the crime scene, making law enforcement less of a deterrent.
“Law enforcement punishes people after the fact. So if people think they’re not going to be alive, the threat of law enforcement doesn’t matter to them,” Lott said. “What determines how many people get killed or injured is the amount of time that lapses between when the shooting starts and when someone arrives on scene with a gun.”
Lott said his research indicates areas with concealed carry laws report fewer multiple-victim attacks. Lott said areas prohibiting residents from carrying concealed weapons serve as a “magnet” for attacks.
“Let’s say someone was seriously threatening a loved one,” Lott said. “Would you feel safer putting a sign saying you’re in a gun-free zone? Would that make you feel safer? My guess is that you wouldn’t put up a sign. Not allowing guns on campuses is essentially putting up a sign.”
Texas state law requires people more than 21 years of age to pay $140 for the license to carry concealed weapons. They also must pass a criminal background test, fingerprinting and shooting proficiency tests.
Lauren Kahre, pre-international studies sophomore, said these limitations are not adequate for preparing students to carry something so dangerous.
“When kids study hard enough they can pass the test to get a license,” Kahre said. “Laws should require a more intensive training, like what police go through, or even a psychological test. Not to be discriminatory, but if they have a history of mental illness they shouldn’t be allowed to carry a gun.”
Bret Poulos, former southwest regional director for Students for Concealed Carry, said the restrictions in place are sufficient enough to eliminate people who should not tote weapons.
“I don’t think students would go through the pain of it all,” Poulos said. “I think as long as a person has passed the background test, shooting tests and everything, it’s perfectly adequate. It’s really in our state representatives’ best opinions to allow students to carry on campus.”
As current state representative, Rose is in favor of concealed carry on campus.
“I think that if someone is 21 or older, a law-abiding citizen, gone through all the work and background education in the shooting ranges and obtained the concealed handgun license, they should be able to carry it, even on campus,” Rose said. “I know there’s some that disagree, but I will always be honest. That’s my opinion on the matter.”
Rose justified his opinion by telling the Associated Student Government about a law student at UT who has a stalker and obtained a concealed carry license to protect herself. Although she has the license, students are not allowed to carry concealed on campus and Rose said she is “scared to death when she goes on campus.”
Kahre said she feels “extremely uncomfortable” about the idea of her classmates carrying a concealed gun.
“It’s a big responsibility,” Kahre said. “If someone’s carrying a gun, they’re like a policeman. I have this feeling of respect for policemen because they know how to wield that gun. It would be inappropriate for a student to be treated like that.”