The shooter at the University of Texas at Austin has renewed the debate about gun laws on college campuses, with a Republican state senator from Houston heading up a fight to allow students with concealed-carry licenses to bring their firearms to class. (Currently it's illegal for college students to carry guns on public campuses in Texas).
Sen. Dan Patrick co-authored a bill last year that would allow students 21-and-up who had obtained a concealed-handgun license to carry weapons onto public Texas college and university campuses. The bill never passed, but a push to reconsider it was launched after Tuesday's early morning crisis — when 19-year-old UT sophomore Colton Tooley walked through UT's campus brandishing an AK-47 assault rifle and fired off several rounds before taking his own life.
“I honestly think, in all my heart, this will make our campuses safer," Patrick said.
I personally disagree, and am always surprised by the inevitable reaction of some groups after these tragedies. After the slayings at Virginia Tech in 2007 at the hands of Seung-Hui Cho, a deeply troubled student who had displayed numerous signs of mental breakdown and had even been sent to a psychiatric hospital, one reaction was to posit whether, if other students had been armed, Cho could have managed to kill 32 people in a two-hour period.
My reaction was that there should be stricter gun control laws. How did someone with his mental health record ever obtain the weaponry he did, illegally or otherwise? (Seung-Hui Cho legally bought a .22 caliber handgun he used in his attack. Two other gunmen legally bought firearms from the same company.) I have the same question about why those accused of domestic violence aren't automatically disallowed from buying guns in Texas.
I'm not uncomfortable around guns. I don't own one, but my mom does. I decided it was important to learn how to shoot, and I did. And I understand that some training is required to obtain a concealed-carry license. A concealed-handgun license does not, however, require combat training.
What is a school shooting if not a combat situation? The thought of a campus full of students and faculty without combat training pulling guns on each other and the risk of people getting caught in crossfire is, to me, ludicrous. It seems to create a situation where more, not less, injuries and fatalities are likely to occur.
And call me crazy, but if everyone has a gun, how do you know who the shooter is? He or she wouldn't get far because they'd be shot and contained immediately, I suppose. Well, they'd have to be.
The real solution to avoiding fatalities in school shootings is establishing an efficient alert system like that deployed so effectively at the University of Texas yesterday. E-mail alerts, emergency sirens, loud speaker announcements and text message alerts from the University combined with students' own activity on social media disseminated information with an immediacy that seemed to keep students informed and out of danger.
To date, (and for comic relief) Chris Rock still has one of the most reasonable views on gun control I've heard:
What do you think? Do you think students with concealed-carry licenses should be allowed to bring firearms on Texas campuses?