Cougars have mixed feelings regarding their safety after the new campus carry bill was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott Saturday.
Michael Leon, an incoming Management Information Systems freshman, feels that it is risky but can also have benefits.
“I think self-defense is a good thing,” Leon said. “You never know when you might need to defend yourself or eliminate a threat.”
Leon is concerned, however, that not everyone will show the same respect to law enforcement in an open shooter situation.
“If someone were to go crazy and start shooting on campus, everyone else on campus with a gun might try to be a hero,” Leon said. He fears a situation like this could confuse police officers trying to stop the shooter.
Texas is now the eighth state to pass a law forcing public colleges and universities to allow concealed weapons on campus. The law is set to go into affect August 1, 2016 for public universities. Public junior colleges will get an extra year to prepare for implementation of the law.
Twenty-three states have adopted similar laws that allow universities to decide individually whether or not to allow concealed weapons on campus.
Business management senior Maryjah Pyles does not think concealed carry should be an option at all.
“You really can’t put anything past anybody, so you really don’t want to put them in that situation,” Pyles said.
While universities in Texas are prohibited from opting out of campus carry, the law does offer wiggle room for administrators to place restrictions on specific areas of campus.
The governing board of each institution will have to submit their decisions and the reasons for their restrictions to Texas legislation for review every two years. Legislation will then decide weather the restrictions are “within reason.”
Titiana Walker, a former student and current employee at the Barnes and Noble at the University Of Houston, feels that her position as a retail employee might make her more susceptible to the threat of gun violence.
“I work with money,” said Walker. “Students are broke. Sometimes, the campus is really empty and anyone could come in here and hold me up. This is a college campus. Students get stressed over exams and their personal lives. Giving guns to people under that amount of pressure is not safe.”
The law does not require universities to make any special preparations for concealed carry, nor does it require any extra security measures.
It is unclear from President and Chancellor Renu Khator’s statement so far what security measures the university will put in place.
The Student Government Association released a statement after the bill was passed that that said they “will absolutely take into account the input and advice of any and all students wishing to make comment.”
SGA Senator Edwin Mascorro said he encourages students to attend SGA meetings to give their opinions on where they stand on the campus carry issue so that they would be able to “appropriately advocate for the students.”
“We are (elected) to advocate on behalf of the student body,” Mascorro said. “I would encourage the student body to please attend the meetings so that all views can be heard, whether they are for or against.”
In 2009, SGA passed a resolution opposing a similar bill that would have allowed concealed carry on campus.