Texas gun law wor­ries stu­dents

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By MAY ZHOU in Hous­ton and HEZI JIANG in Bei­jing

Stu­dents at­tend­ing pub­lic col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties in Texas are fac­ing a new re­al­ity in the class­room: loaded con­cealed guns.

As of Aug 1, Se­nate Bill 11 (Cam­pus Carry), al­lows hold­ers of a con­cealed hand­gun li­cense (CHL) to carry a loaded hand­gun at four-year col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties and ju­nior col­leges. The law takes ef­fect at pri­vate schools and two-year com­mu­nity col­leges next year. Texas is one of just eight states that al­lows stu­dents to carry guns into col­lege build­ings.

Sup­port­ers of the law say an armed stu­dent body could pre­vent another mass shoot­ing like the one that hap­pened on Aug 1, 1966, at the Univer­sity of Texas at Austin. Charles Whit­man, a Marine­trained 25-year-old en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent, climbed to the 28th-floor ob­ser­va­tion deck of a cam­pus clock tower and shot 49 peo­ple, killing 16.

Op­po­nents of the law passed by the Repub­li­can­con­trolled Leg­is­la­ture and signed by Repub­li­can Gover­nor Gregg Ab­bott see the po­ten­tial for more vi­o­lence. And for some Chi­nese stu­dents study­ing in Texas, the new law is alarm­ing.

“My knowl­edge of guns comes from movies and news, and sud­denly I re­al­ize that guns will be right next to me,” said Xing Kai­juan, who will be a fresh­man at UT-Austin from Shan­dong prov­ince.

“I can’t imag­ine that gun shots would be heard of­ten on an Eden-like cam­pus. A stu­dent or teacher could just shoot you when they find you dis­agree­able. I think tragedy will hap­pen as a re­sult.”

Some are not that con­cerned. Yang Yi­ran, a se­nior at the Univer­sity of Hous­ton from Bei­jing, said:

“I don’t think it will have much im­pact. Af­ter all, crim­i­nals can al­ways get hold of guns. Ban­ning guns only dis­ad­van­tages law­ful ci­ti­zens. Stu­dents car­ry­ing guns will be a good de­ter­rent to crim­i­nals. Some of my friends joked that maybe it’s time we get a li­cense so we can take guns to school.”

Zeng Zi­jie, a sopho­more and pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese Stu­dents and Schol­ars As­so­ci­a­tion (CSSA) at UT, said many stu­dents in the or­ga­ni­za­tion find it un­be­liev­able and ridicu­lous that guns are al­lowed on cam­pus, and they said that their par­ents are wor­ried.

“CSSA has around 1,600 mem­bers. We plan to hold a sem­i­nar on how to adapt to a gun-zone cam­pus,” Zeng said. She said there are more than 1,600 Chi­nese un­der­grad­u­ate and grad­u­ate stu­dents at UT.

Zhang Jing, se­nior coun­selor at Bei­jing New Ori­en­tal Vi­sion Over­seas Con­sult­ing, a lead­ing agency that pre­pares Chi­nese stu­dents for study­ing abroad, said the Texas law will dis­cour­age some par­ents from send­ing their chil­dren to the state’s pub­lic col­leges.

“Safety is the num­ber one con­cern for par­ents. Most Chi­nese par­ents don’t fully grasp the re­al­ity of the US gun sit­u­a­tion. They tend to think it’s more dan­ger­ous than it ac­tu­ally is. I think at least 30 per­cent of peo­ple in China will ex­clude Texas as a des­ti­na­tion for higher ed­u­ca­tion be­cause of this new law,” said Zhang.

Texas stu­dents who are res­i­dents said they also are con­cerned.

Natalie Teoh, who lives in Hous­ton and is a sopho­more at UT-Dal­las, views the new law as ut­ter stu­pid­ity: “Cam­pus carry is a won­der­ful idea be­cause who doesn’t want a bunch of hor­monal and men­tally un­sta­ble young peo­ple en­cour­aged to walk around with guns.”

“It’s nerve-rack­ing that the al­ready ex­ist­ing form of con­cealed carry now ex­tends to more pub­lic spa­ces like lec­ture halls. I hope this will de­ter po­ten­tial wrong­do­ers given that oth­ers may be un­know­ingly armed as well,” said Wu Ruochen, a Hous­ton res­i­dent study­ing at UT-Austin.

Teoh’s mother, Nancy Tran, who works at MD An­der­son Can­cer Cen­ter, said the new law “puts our kids in dan­ger”.

“This is a bad idea. Young peo­ple have a lot go­ing on with their lives. To me, they are men­tally and emo­tion­ally im­ma­ture. Some­times peo­ple don’t make sound judge­ment when they have guns eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble. They use it for the wrong rea­sons.”

Be­cause the law re­quires that a gun holder be at least 21, it means most fresh­man, sopho­mores and ju­niors are not el­i­gi­ble to carry guns on cam­pus.

Tran thinks that it’s not fair to ex­pose and sub­ject younger stu­dents to such a po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous en­vi­ron­ment.

“Un­for­tu­nately, it’s the law, it’s passed, and there is noth­ing we can do other than tell our chil­dren to be aware of the sur­round­ings. The law will not be re­viewed and changed un­til some­thing tragic hap­pens, as al­ways is the case,” said Tran.


Stu­dents walk­ing past the main tower at the Univer­sity of Texas at Austin, where guns are al­lowed on cam­pus.

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