The carry-on campus bill that is working its way through the Texas Legislature is a hot-button topic. In fact, the editorial board could not write a Skiff View on whether it should pass because people feel strongly on both sides of the issue. One thing all the editors agree on, however, is that the government should not have the right to interfere with the rights of private institutions to institute policies as they see fit.
A provision in the bill would make it illegal for private colleges and universities to prohibit anyone with a concealed handgun permit from carrying a gun on campus.
This government interference is in stark contrast to all preconceived ideals regarding the difference in public and private institutions.
Freedom of speech is an inalienable right, right? Not when you are at a private institution. It doesn’t pass the test of being a compelling government interest, because the individual chooses whether to be in that institution. If the university decided one day that everyone had to wear purple T-shirts every day, people would probably complain and may even choose to go to another university because of it. But the government has no standing to order the university to stop the purple shirt program. And that is how it should be.
If a private college or university feels that its students’ best interests would be better served by preventing deadly weapons from getting on campus, let the students then decide if they want to attend a university that allows weapons or one that does not.
Circumventing the rights of the schools also circumvents the rights of students to choose whether they are comfortable spending their days in an environment with concealed handguns. Some believe that guns will make people safer, and some believe that they will create a constant danger and each side should have the right to choose.
Opinion editor Katie Martinez for the editorial board.