Article by Delaney Davis
Here at The University of Texas at Austin, we don’t shy away from politics. Campus carry is not an exception to this rule — in fact, the height of the campus carry debate was the time when the university was perhaps at its most political. Remnants of the initial conversation on this divisive topic still remain today: UT academic buildings and residence halls have posters displayed in windows that read “GUN FREE UT” and students still reference the infamous “Cocks Not Glocks” protest that occurred In August of 2016.
Recently, two guns were found left unattended in women’s restrooms on UT’s campus. The discovery of these two firearms has led to a resurgence in the campus carry debate.
Gun control is something I strongly believe in. I’m especially excited that young activists such as Emma González have been the leaders in this new wave for a push in gun reform.
However, I’ve found that I have had a shift in mindset when considering campus carry against the backdrop of the discussion for gun control in the United States as a whole.
To be quite clear, I don’t support the campus carry law. It makes me uncomfortable, especially in light of the guns found left unattended in bathrooms on campus. Unattended guns serve as an impetus for tragedy.
Before the campus carry law was enacted, those with gun permits could carry a firearm up to Guadalupe Street (the main drag right in front of campus). Unless they were brandishing their firearm out in the open, nothing was stopping these individuals from making that five-minute walk from Guadalupe Street to campus.
Campus carry makes me feel unsafe because it allows for potential tragedy, as I mentioned above. Imagine if those unattended guns fell into the wrong hands? But, is it safe to assume that other permit holders are as reckless and careless as the two that left their guns unattended? I’m not so sure. I believe it is a safer assumption to assume that for the majority of law-abiding permit holders, the campus carry law didn’t really make too much of a change in their daily lives.
At first glance, my stance may appear to be a variation on a saying that inevitably pops up when gun control is the topic of discussion: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” I still don’t agree with this statement. My “stance” isn’t really a stance at all — it is a nuance in my pro-gun control belief.
Campus carry itself does not make me feel unsafe because it allows for more law-abiding citizens — who ensure that their gun is with them at all times — to carry concealed guns on campus, which I believe is the principal complaint of those who object to the law. I’m sure I’ve walked past several people with concealed guns and didn’t even notice it. Campus carry makes me feel unsafe because it increases the probability of tragedy, which was narrowly avoided with the unattended guns.
What makes me feel far more unsafe than the campus carry law is how easy we make it to purchase guns, especially semi-automatic guns, in this country. As mentioned in the BusinessInsider article, Florida, where the Parkland shooting occurred, does not require fingerprints, a special permit, or a waiting period to purchase a gun. Clearly, tragedy has done nothing to reduce the ease in which one can purchase a semi-automatic gun: two days after the Pulse nightclub massacre, it took only 38 minutes to buy an AR-15, despite the fact that 49 people had died at the hands of a semi-automatic weapon just 48 hours before.
The gun problem is much bigger than campus carry.