The Texas House and Senate have proposed two bills (SB 354 and HB 750) that would allow concealed weapons on the campuses of state universities in Texas . According to gun control advocates, the bill has strong majority support in both the State Senate and State House . If enacted, this bill would allow - after a background check and as little as ten hours of training - any student, staff or faculty member of a state university in Texas to carry a concealed firearm on campus property. Such an allowance would extend to classrooms .
Guns have no place on our campuses and in our classrooms. The well meaning purpose behind allowing "concealed campus carry" on university campuses in Texas is to increase the protection of members in university communities against harmful individuals. The unintended consequence, however, is that carrying guns on campus will, in fact, make our campus communities less safe for everyone.
Three points illustrate this argument. First, despite claims by some pro-carry advocates that campus carry is a useful deterrent to campus crime and assault , few law officials agree . As expressed by UT Chief of Police and former Chief of Staff of The Austin Police Department, Robert E. Dahlstrom, handguns would "definitely complicate law enforcement on campus". The Texas Association of College and University Police Administrators share this sentiment along with current Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo . Furthermore, a study by Thompson et al. (2009) shows that 86% of campus police chiefs in the U.S believe that having guns on campuses is harmful to campus communities .
Second, introducing handguns into the classroom will have a chilling effect on intellectual discourse between students and faculty . As it stands, the UT Austin police chief has stated, "without firearms as a factor, UTPD is called to respond to real and perceived threats provoked by volatile language and inappropriate behavior [inside and outside the classroom.]"  Indeed, as a result of these concerns, more than 700 students, staff, and faculty at University of Texas at Austin have signed a petition which states that having guns in classrooms will have a negative effect on the university's academic environment and that they will refuse to attend or teach classes if firearms are allowed on campus .
Third, the prevalence of alcohol and drugs on college campuses is a prime reason to keep guns out. According to a study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, “[n]early half of America’s 5.4 million full-time college students abuse drugs or drink alcohol on binges at least once a month.” For college gun owners, the rate of binge drinking is even higher – two-thirds. Alcohol “is involved in 90% of campus rapes, and in 95% of the violent crime on campus.”  Almost 700,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted each year by another student who has been drinking. If guns were involved, those assaults would be much more likely to be fatal .
Please sign the attached petition to show the Texas Legislature that guns are not welcome on Texas university campuses.
If you'd like to sign another petition by Students for Gun Free Schools in Texas use:
With my thanks and best wishes,
The University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Austin Chief of Police and former Chief of Staff of the Austin Police Department, Robert Dahlstrom, states that handguns on campus “would definitely complicate law enforcement on campus.” Current Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo has also spoken out against the bills as has The Texas Association of College and University Police Administrators. According to a study in the Journal of American College Health, 86% of campus police chiefs in the U.S think "concealed campus carry" is a bad idea.
Passing SB 354 and HB 750 would also have a chilling effect on intellectual discourse in our classrooms. Already over 700 faculty, students and staff have signed a petition which states that they will refuse to attend or teach classes if firearms are allowed on campus. Both University of Texas President William Powers and University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa have stated that “concealed carry” would make our campuses less safe.
Perhaps most compellingly, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse cites that alcohol is involved in “90% of campus rapes, and in 95% of the violent crime on campus.” Almost 700,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted each year by another student who has been drinking. If guns were involved, those assaults would be much more likely to be fatal.
I urge you to put yourself in the shoes of the members of the state university community and consider these points when voting on HB 750 and SB 354.
My thanks and best wishes,