A gunman fired several shots on the University of Texas at Austin campus Monday before killing himself on the sixth floor of the Perry-CastaÃÂ±eda library. Fortunately, no one else was harmed in the incident,however, it does highlight a major issue affecting college campuses around the country: the right to bear arms on campus. Most campuses do not allow civilians to carry guns and I believe this incident is another reminder of what a mistake that is.
A similar incident at Virginia Tech University in 2007 was an even more poignant reminder. A student killed himself and 32 others and wounded another 17, making it the worst peacetime shooting in United States history. Virginia Tech had and has a prohibition on possession or storage of firearms by civilians, even with a concealed handgun permit. This means that the students and faculty could not defend themselves against the shooting spree. Instead, they had to wait for police to get a call and arrive after scores had been injured and killed.
After the incident, the Virginia Tech review panel decided that more gun control was necessary, and recommended that Virginia pass legislation “establishing the right of every institution of higher education to regulate the possession of firearms on campus if it so desires” and even went on to recommend campus gun bans “unless mandated by law.” Some students disagreed and an organization named Students for Concealed Carry on Campus was formed shortly after the shooting to reverse these laws.
But even if campuses change their rules, it wouldn’t make much of a difference. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act requires that U.S. citizens be 21 years of age to get a concealed carry license from their state. Most states then require applicants to take a class and wait for the application to be approved. This means most students would not be able to carry a gun regardless of their campus or state policy. The website ConcealedCampus.org notes that out of the 50,000 students at UT-Austin, only about 10-20 would be concealed handgun license holders living in on-campus housing if they had the choice, but still had to be 21 and apply for the license.
Time and time again, gun control has proven ineffective in reducing crime. For example, in 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a strict Washington, D.C. handgun ban as unconstitutional. During the ban, the Washington, D.C. murder rate averaged 73 percent higher than it was after the law was struck down. Gun control only prevents law-abiding citizens from obtaining guns, not criminals. This means criminals can commit crimes before police have any time to respond, as happened tragically during the Virginia Tech massacre.
Let’s not let another tragedy go out of control with police unable to respond in time.
Jack Enright is a sophomore political science and economics double major from Tomball.