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.
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.
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.