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

Concealed carry divides college

By Marley  Malenfant/feature editor

Randall Weatherspoon, a SE Campus security guard, walks around the campus to make sure nothing abrupt will happen. It’s up to him and the campus police to prevent a worst-case scenario.

Soon, he may not be the only one trying to prevent something.

Texas legislators are considering a bill that will allow students and professors to carry a firearm on college campuses with a concealed handgun carry license.

Weatherspoon is skeptical that will happen but worries what could take place if it does.

“I don’t think it’ll pass,” Weatherspoon said. “Right now, we know who the bad guys are. If there ever was a situation, we don’t want to get caught in a crossfire.”

TCC students, faculty and staff are sharply divided on the issue as they weigh the rights of gun owners and the potential for danger.

SE student Karley Lewis is against the bill. She believes a situation is almost unpreventable.

“I don’t want there to be a chance for it to be used on purpose or accident,” she said.

SE student James Knight, however, disagreed with Lewis’ statement.

“I think everyone needs one if this bill goes through,” he said. “Pray that you’re 21 before this bill passes.”

Former TCC student Clayton Smith said if the bill passes, everything he’s fought for was worth it. Last year, Smith won a lawsuit against the college, which tried to ban Smith and his protest group, TCC Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, from staging empty-holster protests.

“We’re excited that it may pass,” he said. “It’ll be safer for students in travel. They don’t have to leave their guns home if they pass through bad neighborhoods on the way to school.”

For the students who disagree with the bill, Smith said they shouldn’t fret.

“I can understand their concern,” he said. “The 71 campuses that allow concealed carry never had an incident. So those students shouldn’t be too concerned. We never had any issues.”

South Campus student Jason Bowman, who is a member of the protest group, thinks even if the bill passes, it won’t change the gun culture.

“I imagine if the bill passes, those with their concealed handgun license will probably begin carrying more often,” he said. “I know I certainly will. But for the average student population, I don’t believe you will notice anything different from normal.”

Bowman said if the bill passes, the TCC protest group may disband. Bowman plans to educate those who are against concealed carry on campus.

“Those who do not share my same background probably will not feel the same that I do about carrying a gun, and for them I say, ‘Then don’t carry a gun,’” he said. “Our police do an outstanding job, but you cannot expect them to be there every second. In the end, responsibility for your own safety falls on you.

“I just ask that you allow me to do so in a manner that you would never know I was [carrying]. And it appears the state lawmakers have agreed and allowed us the right to choose how we each wish to feel safe.”

TCC chief of police Frank Buchanan said he doesn’t know what the policy changes will be if the bill passes.

“From a police perspective, I can’t think about the what-ifs,” he said. “Whatever the Legislature passes, we have to enforce the laws as the Legislature dictates. Our job is to protect the law. That’s it. That’s the job we do. Nobody knows what the policy is going to be if the law passes, but we have to make sure everyone’s rights are protected.”

NE student Rafael Gonzalez said he understands a handgun might make students feel secure. Those attending night classes might feel more comfortable walking to and from their cars when it’s dark, or if students walk to school, they might feel safer carrying a concealed handgun, he said.

“In my opinion, things are good right now, so leave things as they are,” he said.

NE student Brandon Wimmer feels safe on campus and wouldn’t consider carrying a handgun. But he isn’t against other students carrying one if they’re licensed.

“I respect the school enough to not bring it,” he said. “I feel very confident about the campus police.”

SE media services coordinator Michael Johnson disagrees with the bill. He said it leads to more issues in the future.

“It’s illogical,” he said. “You have this large body of young students who aren’t going to be thinking the same things five years from now. You open that door now, and it’s going to be cool. But it just allows people to become vigilantes.”

NW student Billy Campbell said the need for handguns on campus is unnecessary.

“I can’t understand the need to have it on campus,” he said. “If you put guns in people’s hand, it just creates a problem.”

TR student Tom Bradford supports the bill. He said students need to be aware of their rights.

“If it passes, then good,” he said. “It’s the right to bear arms. If some fool wants to try something, you have the chance to defend yourself.”

South student Darion Martin said the right to carry handguns on campus would disturb the peace.

“That would make things worse,” he said. “If anybody had a gun, they could threaten to kill someone anytime they got upset.”

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