The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Debate on carrying guns on campus reignites

By Marley Malenfant/se news editor

NE student Dennis Makus pulled a concealed handgun license from his wallet, but he didn’t have his gun on him.

Makus said he’s been a concealed handgun license owner since December and is one of many students in support of carrying concealed handguns on campus.

“It takes a certain individual to have a concealed handgun license,” he said. “You have to go through a series of tests to be able to receive a license. People are going to do what they want regardless. It doesn’t hurt to have something to protect you.”

In the wake of recent incidents at both the University of Texas at Austin and Brookhaven College, students are revisiting whether they should carry handguns on campus to defend themselves.

TCC students Jason Bowman and Clayton Smith have started an online protest group for students who want the right to carry a concealed handgun on campus. Smith won a lawsuit this year against the college, which tried to ban the group from staging empty-holster protests. The group, TCC Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, was formed shortly after the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007.

“We believe that any student should have the right to defend themselves and, in particular, those students that go through the training and rigorous background checks should be able to carry on campus just as they do everywhere else in their lives,” Smith said. “We don’t want every student to have the right to have a gun on campus, just those that already have a concealed handgun license.”

“Criminals do not obey gun-free zones and, in fact, statistics have shown that the overwhelming majority of mass murders occur in these gun-free zones where law-abiding citizens are left defenseless. Our focus is to educate people about the facts and to dispel any misconceptions.

Smith said the protest group currently has 30 members.

Bowman said the TCC chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus aims to change the current laws regarding where holders of a state-issued concealed handgun license can carry their handguns to include college campuses.

“Holders of concealed handgun licenses already have privileges to carry into movie theaters, churches, sports arenas, malls and many other crowded places,” he said. “There is no reason why a college campus would be any different. For the law-abiding citizens who pass a background check, go out of their way to learn the laws and get taught situational awareness, non-lethal measures of de-escalating a conflict and general handgun usage, these are not people who commit criminal acts.”

Bowman said the UT Austin shooting adds urgency to why the law should be changed.

“Police do a fine job at protecting our campus and city,” he said. “However, we cannot keep an officer in our pocket. Obviously, the recent events at the University of Texas highlight their excellent work in protecting the campus with automatic text messages, sirens and campuswide lockdowns. The first line of defense is a trained, knowledgeable student who is prepared and capable of defending themselves.”

NE student Jose Chavarria argues that students should never be allowed to carry a weapon on campus.

“Hell, no,” he said. “If the guy in front of me was strapped, I wouldn’t feel safe.”

NE student Barbara Marie Garcia said it wouldn’t matter if a student has a license to carry.

“Guns shouldn’t be on campus at all,” she said. “How do you know if you anger the wrong person?”

Bowman said those that disagree with the protest group don’t understand their amendment rights.

“We are not pessimists, and we don’t believe that we are one-person SWAT teams that can take down any campus shooter either,” he said. “Our goal is to regain our right to self-defense from the parking lot to the classroom. We are concerned with our own defense and of those in our immediate vicinity. Nothing more.”

 

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