Viewpoint: College and concealed carry: Don’t buy guns just because you can

By Taylor Rexrode

Since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, people across the country have been shaken. Federal and state governments have tried to find an answer through gun laws and legislation.

While President Obama has worked to put restrictions on certain types of firearms to prevent mass casualties by a gunman, Texas Senator Brian Birdwell has filed legislation this month that allows concealed handguns on college and university campuses. If it passes, the Campus Personal Protection Act will allow anyone over 21 years old with a concealed carry license, including students, faculty and staff, to carry handguns on campus.

When I thought about the potential reality—a Baylor with on-campus guns—I was torn between two sides of myself. Luckily, the university has said it will opt out of any potential legislation as a private university, but if the legislation passes, and the university changes its mind, it could happen.

There’s the part of me that grew up around guns. Like many families, my family used guns for hunting and guns for self-defense for as long as I can remember. I recognize the benefits of a firearm and could use one if I had the need.

That part of me wants to believe that students, faculty and staff secretly carrying firearms will make campus life safe. After all, no one would open fire on a group of students who could easily defend themselves. Everything would be the way it was—but safer—since no one would know that so-and-so has a loaded gun in the classroom.

There’s another side of me that, regardless of safety, knows that campus life would never be the same should guns be introduced. Whether students realize it or not, concealed carry on campus would disrupt the learning environment and forever change our “Baylor bubble” and the community that surrounds it.

I’m glad that Birdwell’s legislation does have some restrictions. It does not support gun carrying at sporting events and it lets individual campuses choose whether or not students can have firearms in dormitories. Nonetheless, I find it disconcerting that people could be carrying guns while at the SUB. Or at the library. Or at Christmas on 5th, Homecoming or Diadeloso. The sense of security felt on campus would be disjointed, at best.

I am a defender of the Second Amendment just as much as anyone else, I really am. I think that responsible gun handlers should have firearms for self-defense in their car or residence, especially with the armed robberies that occur off-campus.

But when I see legislation pop up, and at the same time pawnshops and sports stores are getting cleaned out of their stock of assault weapons, I can’t help but feel that this responsible decision to carry a firearm has evolved into a craze; a craze that has made people unnecessarily paranoid and hungry for the chance to exercise their Constitutional right to bear arms.

While we shouldn’t idly allow shootings to occur without changing policy, we also shouldn’t, as citizens, let recent events escalate us into a fit of gun frenzy. A mass shooting is not a call to live a life of paranoia where the fear of one person with a gun creates a sea of people walking across Fountain Mall with pistols in their backpacks.

I can’t change what happens in Austin. I know that the Campus Personal Protection Act could pass and that public universities would have to adopt its policy. In turn, private universities like Baylor could follow suit if they so chose. My hope is that, no matter what happens in legislation and no matter how Baylor responds, students won’t feel the need to go out and get a concealed carry license just so they can feel powerful carrying a gun on campus.

I hope that students think about the implications of concealed carry and I hope that, should Texas and Baylor adopt this legislation, whoever chooses to carry a firearm will never have to use it.

Taylor Rexrode is a junior journalism major from Forney. She is a staff writer for the Lariat.