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Student petition for concealed carry takes off

Student petition for concealed carry takes off
March 07
07:19 2013
Cisco senior Zach Maxwell, Director of Operations for the Baylor chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas, on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.   Travis Taylor | Lariat Photographer

Cisco senior Zach Maxwell, Director of Operations for the Baylor chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas, on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.
Travis Taylor | Lariat Photographer

By Taylor Rexrode
Staff Writer

The Baylor chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas and students for concealed carry aren’t going down without a fight.

Cisco senior Zachary Maxwell, director of operations for the organization, started a petition as a way to show his support for Texas Sen. Brian Birdwell’s bill for on-campus concealed carry.

Senate Bill 182 was submitted on Jan. 17 and would allow concealed carry on public college campuses. Private universities have the choice to opt out.

Dr. Blake Burleson, senior lecturer of religion, and Dr. Robin Wallace, a professor of musicology in the School of Music, took a petition of 120 signatures to Birdwell’s office on Feb. 18 to show faculty opposition to the bill. The petition has since grown by 50 signatures.

Within the past two weeks, the petition has accumulated around 450 signatures. He plans to take the petition to Birdwell’s office on Thursday.

Maxwell said his petition is meant to show that students don’t necessarily agree with Burleson and Wallace.

“Just because a couple Baylor professors decided to send a petition, it doesn’t mean that all of Baylor agrees with it,” Maxwell said. “You have to look at the perspective of the students because we’re the ones that matter. We’ve had an overwhelming response to our petition.”

Rockwall freshman Forrest Davis, treasurer for the Baylor Young Conservatives of Texas chapter, said he hopes the petition will show Birdwell the voice of Baylor students.

“I’m hoping he would realize our voice on the matter,” Davis said. “We have our own voice and our own opinion. There are people on this campus that support Birdwell and support his bill. We don’t just allow Dr. Burleson to speak on our behalf.”

Maxwell introduced the petition to the Young Conservatives of Texas chapter and the organization started gathering signatures on Feb. 20.

Maxwell said the professors, by signing the petition, are “taking away safety” by not allowing students to defend themselves and by leaving faculty unable to keep their students safe.

“They are putting my life in their hands,” Maxwell said. “What are they going to do if a shooter is to come on campus? Are they willing to stand in between me and the shooter? Are they going to throw a dry erase marker at them?”

Davis said he wants students, faculty and staff to understand what he considers the reality of campus concealed carry.

“I want them to know more than just the common misconceptions,” Davis said. “It doesn’t mean there will be outbreaks on campus where someone takes out a gun and starts shooting. This is a defense mechanism, not an offensive measure to settle disputes.”

The Texas College Democrats released a statewide petition on Monday in opposition to Senate Bill 182. At the time of publication, the number of signatures on the petition was unavailable.

Bushland junior Trenton Garza, president of Baylor Democrats, helped put together the petition.

When asked about the Baylor Young Conservatives’ reasoning behind the petition, Garza says it’s “stating the obvious.”

“Of course not everyone is going to be opposed to concealed carry on campus,” Garza said. “When you do a petition to show there is a little support for a radical idea, you’ll find a few people but that doesn’t change that the policy should somehow govern over the majority’s preferences.”

Plano senior Adaobi Ekweani, president of Baylor Democrats, agrees that there are many different opinions on campus but thinks professors should have their opinions considered over those of students.

“You have to be 21 to carry a gun and most of our campus won’t be 21,” Ekweani said. “The people that would be directly affected would be our professors, so their opinion should be weighted a little more than the undergraduates that are signing the petition.”

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