When Texas passed campus carry, the usual suspects predicted doom and gloom. The halls of academia would run red with blood. Students would gun down teachers in a fit of rage at a bad grade. Campus parties would turn into shoot-em-ups in no time. The horrors would be endless.
Then Texas passed it, the law went into effect, and nothing happened.
Joseph Warta, a regional director with the National Association for Gun Rights, recently penned an op-ed about just how successful campus carry has been in Texas.
But the grave threat to academic freedom claimed by professors has been nothing more than fear-mongering. In fighting against campus carry, the professors argued that students able to carry firearms into their classrooms made them fearful of discussing controversial topics. Tempers might flare, they said, and the situation could escalate into violence. They were especially incensed that the law did not let them individually ban firearms from class.
Some professors went so far as to transfer to another school or engage in performance art. Charles K. Smith, a community college professor at San Antonio College, came to class wearing body armor to protest the passage of a similar campus carry law for community colleges. Nobel laureate Thomas Südhof refused to teach at UT-Southwestern because of the “constant danger that a gun will be pointed at me any minute.”
But in upholding the campus carry law, the court said that the professors must provide concrete evidence that a concealed carry permit holder would be likely to resort to violence.
Some Texas colleges have embraced the new law. At Texas Tech University in Lubbock, university leaders seem much less opposed to the law than the school’s faculty. In an interview with a local radio show, Texas Tech president Lawrence Schovanec didn’t seem to think much about the law: “I don’t mean to minimize the impact of [campus carry], but in a sense you would say it’s been a non-event…The implementation has been very, very smooth.” The issue, Schovanec noted, is now rarely discussed.
Texas Tech’s police department came out in support of the law too, arguing that it has made the school safer. Texas Tech police department Lt. Amy Ivey opined: “I believe it makes the campus a safer place to live, learn and educate.” The police believe that the law deters prospective shooters who are intimidated by the possibility of armed students or staff at the school.
Texas Tech University had an incident in which a student shot and killed a campus police officer in 2017, two years after the law passed. But the new law was irrelevant: the shooter was 19 years old and couldn’t legally obtain a concealed carry permit. Of course, the new law did not act as a deterrent either, as proponents claim.
Warta notes that other schools have just accepted the law and there’s been little to no issue whatsoever.
That’s not surprising, though. For one, people with concealed carry permits are among the most law-abiding people out there. Those who carry are far less likely to engage in criminal behavior, and that includes shooting people without cause.
For another, campus carry doesn’t apply to many students.
As Warta notes:
There was good reason to expect that this law was low-risk: for starters, it only applies to a small number of Texas college students. Under the law, openly carrying a firearm on campus remains illegal and gun owners must be at least 21 years old to obtain a permit to carry. Officials at UT-Austin estimate that only 500 students who live on campus are over 21 and fewer than 1 percent of those students have concealed carry permits.
But you know what that small number of students do? They give a potential mass shooter pause. He now has to account for whether or not someone lawfully carrying a firearm is in the building he wants to enter, and if he’ll be able to get them before they can draw and fire. If not, even if the bad guy does eventually kill the good guy, how many potential targets have escaped?
The truth of the matter is that every time a state has expanded gun rights, the anti-gun zealots scream and shout about how people are going to die, how whatever place will no longer be safe, and then we see the reality.
It never pans out the way they say it will, probably because gun owners aren’t nearly as murderous as our opponents claim.