Panel offers perspectives on campus carry

Students gather at the SUB on January 20, 2016 to discuss the effects the open carry law has on Baylor's Campus. Students engage by asking pannel member, Mark Childers, Associate Vice President for the Department of Public Safety questions.

By Jessica Hubble Lariat Reporter

Over the next week, student government is sponsoring several events to inform students on campus carry.

The law, which  takes effect Aug. 1, will allow for the carrying of handguns on public college campuses and similar higher institutions of learning. Private universities, however, have the option to decide whether or not they will allow it. Baylor has yet to make a decision on the matter.

On Wednesday, Student Government hosted a “This Matters” discussion in the Bill Daniel Student Center den. The discussion addressed campus carry, gun violence in America and campus safety. The aim of the discussion was to educate students about those topics.

The panelists included Dr. Kevin Jackson, Chris Holmes and Mark Childers. Kevin Jackson is the vice president for student life at Baylor. Chris Holmes is associate general counsel for Baylor, which means he advises the university on the requirements of Senate Bill 11. Mark Childers is associate vice president for the Department of Public Safety on campus and he was a member of the Secret Service for 26 years. Each panelist stressed that their views were not the university’s and they were simply speaking from their own perspectives.

Jackson spoke from a higher education perspective. He pointed out that the vast majority of higher education leaders don’t think it is a good idea to have campus carry.

Childers wanted students to keep a few things in mind when deciding an opinion on campus carry, including what happens if the gun is left behind somewhere by accident or if a gun falls down and discharges. He also mentioned a scenario where an active shooter on campus and a concealed handgun license holder pulls their gun on an active shooter. The police would not know who the actual shooter is. Childers wanted people to keep in mind that the responsibility ultimately falls on the gun holder and ,potentially, the university.

Students asked questions through the “This Matters” twitter, @ThisMattersBU, and through index cards. Many students also stood up and asked questions or gave their opinions.

“I am in favor of campus carry,” New Braunfels freshman Kaitlyn Anderson said. “I believe it is a constitutional right and I believe that campus is much safer with campus carry because people with CHLs are law abiding citizen. So having these people safely and knowledgeably carrying their guns makes this campus much safer in an active shooter situation.”

Jackson mentioned the “chilling effect”. The idea that someone cannot act in their normal capacity based on something that causes them fear. Based on this, a question was asked about profiling on campus. The person was worried that they would possibly be profiled by police and students if they knew that an individual was carrying a gun. Jackson said that it is a ‘condition of the heart’ and that at a Christian university the students should model a way of how to treat people.

“I would say this bill is not for minority people,” said Desoto sophomore Mark Toliver. “Especially from the different minority prejudices we, have throughout America.”

Other events will be hosted in the next week covering campus carry. During lunch hours in the SUB there will be a table with copies of Senate Bill 11, a frequently asked questions sheet and a box for feedback. A poll for students to state their opinion on campus carry will be sent out today. There will be a public conversation Monday at 5 p.m. at the Bobo Spiritual Life Center. Senate will deliberate and write a bill on January 28. There will also be a video sent out soon about how to react in an active shooter situation.

“Regardless of what Baylor decides, it affects you either way,” said Student Body President Pearson Brown, “and it is something that is really being talked across, not just as the state level but on the national level.”