Guns on cam­pus

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHINA DAILY in Hous­ton May Zhou and Tif­fany Wang in Hous­ton con­trib­uted to this story.

Texas’ con­tro­ver­sial hand­guns on cam­pus laws are still stir­ring up de­bate among those who want to feel safe and those who worry who’s car­ry­ing.

Texas’ con­tro­ver­sial hand­guns in schools laws are still split­ting opin­ions on cam­puses across the Lone Star State.

On one af­ter­noon last month, Bay­lor Uni­ver­sity in Waco, Texas, is­sued a Twit­ter alert #Bay­lor to warn stu­dents and fac­ulty about a shoot­ing near the cam­pus and ad­vise them to seek shel­ter.

It was re-tweeted by more than 1,800 ac­counts, in­clud­ing some news or­ga­ni­za­tions, and fol­lowed by com­ments.

“This is why #Bay­lor should’ve al­lowed cam­pus carry. It’s your only way to en­sure your safety in an ac­tive shooter sit­u­a­tion,” wrote a tweeter named Will Crisp.

Another by the name of Dan Walden said: “The only thing that makes me happy about this ac­tive shooter sit­u­a­tion is that we don’t al­low cam­pus carry #Bay­lor.”

The sit­u­a­tion, which oc­curred on Sept 6, was cleared up an hour later with­out in­ci­dent, but the po­lar­ized views show that the is­sue still stirs con­tro­versy two months after the cam­pus carry law went into ef­fect in Texas on Aug 1.

The Texas 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 goes into ef­fect in pri­vate schools and two-year com­mu­nity col­leges next year. The age limit is 21 and older.

Stu­dents at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) or­ga­nized a rally against cam­pus carry on the first day of school, but cam­puses across the state are mostly quiet about the law.

Stu­dents are as di­vided as ever over the is­sue.

“As a first-gen­er­a­tion Asian from Viet­nam, I per­son­ally saw Amer­ica as a non-vi­o­lent coun­try where safety is a given, not a choice,” said Philip Ninh, a se­nior at the Uni­ver­sity of Hous­ton (UH). “It’s a one-sided bat­tle of fear and that we need to do this to feel ‘safe’. In­stead of hav­ing stu­dents car­ry­ing guns, why don’t we trust the cam­pus po­lice who are ev­ery­where on cam­pus to pro­tect us?”

Some view cam­pus carry as dis­trac­tion. “I al­ready have a hard time fo­cus­ing on my classes and I don’t need a gun to dis­tract me more,” said Alec Chi, a UH ju­nior. “I agree that ev­ery­one has the right to pro­tect them­selves, but is a gun re­ally nec­es­sary?”

Ear­lier this year the UH fac­ulty se­nate urged its mem­bers to be care­ful dis­cussing sen­si­tive top­ics, drop cer­tain top­ics from the cur­ricu­lum and limit stu­dent ac­cess dur­ing off hours in re­sponse to the cam­pus carry law. Cam­pus carry was viewed to have the po­ten­tial to curb free speech, a view echoed by Johnathan Esquivel, a sopho­more at UH.

“I do not be­lieve that con­tro­ver­sial is­sues should be avoided just be­cause a stu­dent may be­come ag­i­tated,” said Esquivel.

The first cam­pus carry in­ci­dent oc­curred in mid-Septem­ber when a gun was ac­ci­den­tally fired in a dorm at Tar­leton State Uni­ver­sity. No one was harmed in the in­ci­dent.

“I’m for cam­pus carry be­cause UH stu­dents ex­pe­ri­ence mul­ti­ple thefts ev­ery week on av­er­age,” said Bao Pham, a se­nior. “I want to keep my friends safe.”

“I wanted to get my con­cealed hand­gun li­cense, but I don’t turn 21 un­til next sum­mer,” said Kiana Muschlin, a sopho­more at UH. “I will prob­a­bly get one then.”

“Most were wor­ried about cam­pus carry when school first started, but now stu­dents seem to have for­got­ten about it. This is prob­a­bly be­cause no cam­pus shoot­ing has hap­pened yet,” said Wu Wenyuan, a stu­dent.

“I just think it’s re­ally dis­ap­point­ing that there were cam­pus-wide ral­lies last year when this leg­is­la­tion was be­ing voted on and in­di­vid­u­als who were aware of it were des­per­ately try­ing to get oth­ers to act, but to no avail,” said Joseph Stemm­ler, a ju­nior at UT-Austin. It’s a ‘too lit­tle too late’ sce­nario where now that it was passed ev­ery­one de­cided that they wanted to act. It’s truly dis­heart­en­ing.”

TIF­FANY WANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

Stu­dents go about their cam­pus life as usual un­der the ef­fects of cam­pus carry gun laws at Uni­ver­sity of Hous­ton.

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