Students, faculty discuss campus carry

Riley Beckwith, Staff Writer

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Students debate the issue of guns on campus. Senior Joe Dougherty collected student input via a campus-wide survey. Photo by Elizabeth Kerin.

Students and faculty at the University of Dallas have begun to discuss the possibility of implementing allowances for concealed carry on campus.

In June, Gov. Greg Abbott signed Texas Senate Bill 11 into law, which would affect all universities in the state.

The law became effective Sept. 1.

SB 11 permits faculty, staff, students and visitors 21 years or older who have concealed handgun licenses to carry concealed guns on university campuses, according to LegiScan.

The bill contains provisions allowing universities to designate athletic events and sporting venues as off-limits to concealed handguns.

It also states that on-campus locations already off-limits to concealed handguns will remain so.

The bill was passed with a partial “opt-out” measure in place for those universities that wish to retain their own policies on guns.

Should private universities wish to opt out, their students, staff and faculty must be officially consulted about establishing bans on campus carry.

UD President Thomas Keefe has previously expressed his reservations about campus carry policies. He believes they may jeopardize student safety, which he considers his top priority.

“Having guns indiscriminately spread on campus is going to make [ensuring student safety] immeasurably harder,” Keefe said in an interview with the Dallas Morning News in May. “The only people I want having guns are police and the bad guy. I don’t want police to have to sort out who is John Wayne coming to the rescue.”

UD administration has already begun taking measures to address the issue.

This began with an online survey, created by Student Government (SG), for students. The survey was posted on Oct. 30 and had yielded a total of 270 responses as of Nov. 3.

Nearly 44 percent of respondents reported that the issue of campus carry was “critically important” to them.

Opinions were divided, with 49 percent saying “Yes” to a concealed carry policy and 44 percent responding “No.”

Those who responded “No” tended to rate the issue as of more critical importance than those who responded “Yes.” Over a quarter of respondents answered “No” and also rated the issue as “critically important.”

Some exemplary responses were released to the Student Senate at their meeting last week, and both passion and reason were articulated on both sides.

“All that prohibiting firearm ownership can do is limit the law-abiders, the good people whom you can actually trust,” one student who voted “Yes” on campus carry said. Other “Yes” respondents cited the importance of the Second Amendment and the danger of gun-free zones as targets for mass shooters.

Many of those who replied “No” stressed the inherent danger of guns, particularly around young people.

“I think that accidents are more prone to happen whenever there are guns around,” one respondent said.

Concerns over high gun violence rates across the United States also made respondents wary of the idea of concealed carry.

Keefe will reportedly continue to hear opinions over the issue until at least the end of the year before implementing any new policies on the issue.

“The administration definitely wants to know what students think,” senior Joe Dougherty, who compiled survey results into a report for the senate, wrote in an email. “My reading of President Keefe’s remarks during the public meeting is that he won’t allow concealed carry by students based simply on the opinions and facts he has seen thus far … but this survey by itself probably won’t push any changes.”

Ultimately, though required by law to consult with students, the administration is free to make whatever policy changes they want. Nevertheless, the UD student body has a notable interest in the topic, demonstrating that students are paying attention, regardless of whatever decision is made.

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