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As a Texas student affected by the law, I never would’ve imagined how much my opinion has changed.

Campus Carry: What the First Few Weeks Have Been Like

The Beginning of Campus Carry

As a Texas student affected by the law, I never would’ve imagined how much my opinion has changed.

By Jessica Peña, University of Texas at San Antonio


“Does he have a gun in his backpack?”

My thoughts drown out the professor’s high-pitched voice.

“Could she have one in her purse?”

I can’t take my eyes off the bag on the floor by my foot.

While my focus should be on my professor as she elaborates on the grading policy, I can’t help but wonder how many students in the crowded auditorium are carrying a loaded gun.

Campus Carry: What the First Few Weeks Have Been Like
Image via the Pine log

Could one go off accidentally while someone is reaching for a pencil? I’ve never held a real gun before; what do I do if someone pulls one out? Where’s the nearest exit in case I have to run? Would I even make it out?

By my third class on the first day of my fifth semester at UT San Antonio, these were the questions on my mind.

Mostly, it was simple curiosity.

By now, everyone knows about the new Senate Bill that was passed into law on June 1st, 2015, by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. It states that handguns are to be allowed on all public universities (including inside the buildings) in Texas, so long as the weapon is in the possession of a concealed handgun license (CHL) holder.

Sure, there are requirements to be met before being able to get such a license, but the criteria are hardly demanding. Basically, as long as you’ve been a legal resident of the U.S. for the last six months, are twenty-one years of age, haven’t been convicted of anything and aren’t addicted to drugs, you’re eligible to carry a gun.

Besides the hype of the bill itself, there was so much additional scrutiny added by protests from faculty and students, such as the “Cocks Not Glocks” movement at UT Austin, that I couldn’t help but think about my safety as I sat in class with a room full of potentially weapon-wielding gun owners my own age.

Honestly, I would much rather everyone be carrying around giant dildos. But instead, I think about how many of the young adults around me got caught up in the excitement and got themselves licensed without really thinking about it. How many actually know how and when to use their weapon? How many are just carrying a gun out of fear?

The thought of an unstable person taking out a weapon in a crowded class made me fear for my safety. Time seemed to slow as my anxiety mounted with the possibility of a gun being in such close proximity. Anger toward the people who passed the ridiculous law flared inside me.

I knew this was a bad idea.

Since the first day I learned guns would be allowed on campus, I was skeptical as to whether the decision would lead to less violence. I thought giving a bunch of stressed out, sleep-deprived college students all hopped up on caffeine the right to tote around a deadly weapon was asking for tragedy.

So when the first day of class came along with the new law in effect, it weighed heavy on my mind that a firearm could be inches away from me without my knowledge. The entire situation made me completely uncomfortable.

Now I’ve been in school for more than three weeks.

Campus Carry: What the First Few Weeks Have Been Like
Image via the Rivard Report

By this point, classes are in full swing, and not even the grueling task of analyzing “Ulysses” is enough to make my mind wander back to the issue of guns on campus.

While I had apprehensions when I heard about the law, and even fears at the beginning of the semester, I can’t deny that they quickly became the last thing on my mind.

I am no longer drowning out my professors’ voices or glaring fearfully at peoples’ bags. Terrifying scenarios in which my life was in danger no longer play out in my mind. I’m not scanning for the nearest exit or planning an escape route.

Obviously, I’ll never actually be on board with the whole thing, but it isn’t something I feel the need to worry about on a daily basis anymore. I’m not afraid to walk around my campus or study in the library. I’m not distracted in class just because the person next to me may or may not have a concealed handgun.

And while it may take a long time to know whether the law will reduce campus violence, it’s definitely safe to say it isn’t something that’ll interfere with my education.

For or against Campus Carry, students have quickly found much more important things to worry about.

  1. Jessica, the problem is that you were letting your opinion be swayed by a group of people who had absolutely no data to support their contention that this was a bad idea, but plenty of emotional sway.

    There are three truths to this that they refused to acknowledge.
    1-This has been the law in 8 other states for some time-some for years. In that time there has never, been a single incident like they describe. Not one student who has a carry permit has come unhinged.

    2-Students who have a carry permit are few in number, but big on safety. As a group, (Texas tracks this) carry permit holders are the safest group in society. Even including police officers-they’re still less likely to commit violence.

    3-The signs they had up before prohibiting guns were a false shield. Think about it. How many of those kids had a gun in their backpack BEFORE the law? There was certainly nothing stopping them. Those signs do nothing to stop someone deranged or bent on evil. Nothing.

    So now you’re seeing the reality of it…it’s much ado about nothing.

  2. This girl is just plain stupid. She worries about an unstable person pulling out a gun but it never occurs to her that an unstable person can pull out a gun anytime regardless of legality. Ummm…unstable people do unstable things…duh.

    It also never occurs to her that if an unstable person pulls out a gun (legally or not), that it might be a good idea for stable people to have a gun to protect her with.

    I realize that she eventually learned to deal with it but the poor thinking skills astound me.

  3. I’m sorry the media and uninformed protesters got you all worked up, and I’m glad your anxiety subsided early in the semester! You wrote a good, honest column that shows maturity. One correction though: licensed concealed carry was already allowed on campus, the new law only added the inside of buildings.

  4. Welcome to the real world Jessica. It is a much nicer place here. It is what college used to be about: opening your eyes and mind to new ideas that don’t move lock-step with yours, and being able to then make critical judgments independently. The new trend on campus has been to deny individual expression, free speech, autonomy, and independent thought- actions that run counter to the spirit and history of higher education. The hysteria whipped up by professors and professional agitators probably had a significant impact on the beliefs and emotions of everyone caught in the poo storm. I am glad you had the opportunity to see things for yourself, and make your own judgement, independent of the lockstep politics and propaganda churned out by a coalition of professors and their indoctrinated minions. Hopefully at some point, educators will remember their mission is to educate and teach others to think for themselves, rather than forcing them to goosestep to the politics of the moment. Best of luck to you in completing your education.

  5. I always suggest that people who have strong anti-gun feelings but have never used one should find a gun owner friend and go shooting. It’s quite fun, can be as easy or challenging as you want it to be and gives you a practical, real-world foundation on which you can form your opinions.

  6. Why don’t you find a nice guy or girl to dispel your fear and apprehension of firearms. I never understood how “ignorance” is the enemy to those very smug people who think they know everything, UNTIL it comes to firearms. Then “ignorance is bliss” and they’re the most smug, blissful people in the world. They don’t know, and they don’t WANT to know.

    There’s a bunch of folks out there who want to teach you how to be, if not proficient, at least familiar enough with firearms to dispel the “mythical talisman of evil’ that the Leftist Statist Media has inculcated you to believe that a firearm can be. It’s a tool. Like a hammer. incapable of thought or action. Those who carry them for good know and accept, not only the responsibility of the safe handling of that weapon, but the moral responsibility that accompanies it’s (dreadful, last resort) use to defend self or others.

    You’re going to school to learn…so go do some real learning. Ulysses would have approved. This knowledge may not mold you into Xena: Warrior Princess, but at least you’ll be informed and hopefully, prepared to dispel some of the ridiculous crap that comes out of the gun-haters’ mouths and keyboards on a regular basis.

    When Seung-Hui Cho was stalking from classroom to classroom with puny little .22 pistols, and 10 round magazines, reloading over and over, he knew he could do his evil with impunity because no one would stop him for many minutes. The threat of an armed, capable defender keeps these “crazy, but not crazy enough to shoot up a gun show” defectives from perpetuating their sickness upon others. Predators love soft targets.

    Live a long life…don’t be one.

  7. I’m glad you are coming around to realize gun owners and guns themselves aren’t as scary as the media and protesters would have you believe.

  8. Jessica, thank you for a well-written and thoughtful article. I’m happy to see you’ve been able to do just what college is supposed to teach you to do – examination a situation, gather facts, form opinions from those facts, and adjust your attitudes and behaviors accordingly.

    Just one thing you said that if take issue with. Even though you’ve outgrown your fear of the possibility of being near someone with a gun, you should ALWAYS know where your exits, concealment (threat can’t see you) and cover (threat can’t reach you) are. The chance that you’ll need to react to a criminal with a gun is small, but you need to know how to help yourself and others if there is a fire or weather emergency.

    Take care, work hard and enjoy yourself.

  9. I agree with the article.
    Students and regular people armed scares me like you have no idea! Specially concealed.
    If I want to rob somebody and they are concealing a weapon there is no way for me to know. And I don’t want to get shot. Of course you could advice me to stop stealing but that’s like advising you not to be dumb.
    I’ve always been an advocate for free gun zones and free guns cities, much less stress. LEO’s always take quite a bit and I’m a good runner.
    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Jessica, did you previously feel the same anxiety when sitting in a restaurant, walking through a mall, or shopping at HEB? Those same “crazies” that you worry about at school go to restaurants and shop too. Were you staring at their back packs and purses. I’m a handgun license holder and a firearms instructor. I guarantee that you’re safer sitting next to me in a restaurant than you’d be in a classroom at UTSA. Besides if you actually looked at the UTSA guidelines that the committee came up with them they have made the entire issue mostly mute. They were obviously out to gut the law when writing the guidelines and nullify the intent of the legislature. There are so many restrictions placed on campus carry that it is almost impossible to campus carry without violating one of them. Some of the guidelines would be laughable if they weren’t so sad and ill informed.

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