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TTU Faculty and Staff Against Campus Carry

This petition had 832 supporters

At the end of its last legislative session on May 31st, 2015 the Texas legislature approved Senate Bill 11, which extends the right to carry concealed handguns into buildings on public* college and university campuses. 

This law is set to take effect on August 1st, 2016, unbelievably, on the 50th anniversary of the Clock Tower Shooting on the University of Texas campus in Austin in which 14 individuals were killed and 32 wounded. An amendment that was attached to the bill -- and which is the reason the bill passed -- charges university presidents with the responsibility of limiting concealed handgun carriage (but not to "generally prohibit") by the designation of certain areas on campus premises (that is, buildings). 

This petition demands that all classrooms as well as all faculty and staff offices should be declared off limits for concealed carry guns (or weapons of any type) by Texas Tech president Duane Nellis, and that this decision should be approved by the university's board of regents.

Campus Carry is a BAD idea. The scientific consensus is overwhelming: the presence of guns greatly increases the risk that they will be used for crimes of passion or suicides.** On the other hand there is absolutely no credible evidence of the NRA's "good guy with a gun" ever stopping a mass shooting event. Not even one.

In fact, the evidence shows that handguns are almost never used for self-protection. Rather, it is MUCH more likely that a handgun will be used between persons who are known to each other, or in a suicide, or stolen, than it will be used for self-protection.***

Campus carry puts faculty, staff, and students in danger. The presence of guns in university buildings is not only a threat to our safety; it is a threat to our academic freedom. It creates a special class of students which is encouraged to secretly carry lethal force into college and university buildings. 

Campus Carry is discriminatory in that it requires a TX concealed carry license, so it is only available to the 53% of students who are 21 years or older. Thus 18-20 year old students are excluded from the "constitutional right to self-protection" that the law seeks to "restore."

*Campus Carry is discriminatory in that it only applies to public colleges and universities, NOT private institutions (this was explained by the bill's sponsor as "private property rights trump the right to self-protection").

Campus Carry is a disastrous unfunded mandate that amounts to a what is essentially a university system wide budget cut of $47 million cost to implement that will have to come out of our students' tuition dollars.****

The looming threat of Campus Carry is already having a severe negative effect on recruiting: many parents are not comfortable sending their children to institutions that allow concealed handguns in classrooms. It will also discourage visiting faculty and artists from coming to Texas campuses.

But SB11 is now Texas law. Only two possible scenarios can limit the damage it will do to our campuses: 1. repeal, which is not likely at this time, and 2. that President Nellis designates all classrooms, as well as all faculty and staff offices, off limits for concealed carry guns (or weapons of any type).

We call on Texas Tech University President Nellis to make all classrooms and all faculty/staff offices off limits for concealed carry guns (or weapons of any type). We call on the TTU Board of Regents to approve that decision. We call on Texas Governor Greg Abbott to admit that this law is a disaster-in-the-making and repeal it by executive order.

We will not be intimidated. We will not stand by while our academic freedom and lives are threatened. No guns. No targets. 

This quote from one of our colleagues sums up our position quite well:

"I believe that the state, the university, and its governors have a fundamental ethical responsibility to protect students, faculty, and staff from deadly violence AND ALSO from conditions that permit concealed handgun carriers implicit and special rights to intimidate others. This is a violation of academic freedom, a violation of the university's fundamental educational commitment to open discourse, and a violation of the state's responsibility to its citizens."                        - Dr. Christopher J. Smith, Texas Tech University faculty

Thank you for signing!

**("In 2012, for every justifiable homicide in the United States involving a gun, guns were used in 32 criminal homicides. And this ratio, of course, does not take into account the tens of thousands of lives ended in gun suicides or unintentional shootings that year." Violence Policy Center, "Firearm Justifiable Homicides and Non-Fatal Self Defense Gun Use: An Analysis of Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Crime Victimization Survey Data," June 2015.

***"In addition, only a tiny fraction of the intended victims of violent crime or property crime employ guns for self-defense. Over a five-year period, less than one percent of victims of attempted or completed violent crimes used a firearm, and only a tenth of one percent of victims of attempted or completed property crimes used a firearm."

Here is the study's conclusion:
"The reality of self-defense gun use bears no resemblance to the exaggerated claims of the gun lobby and gun industry. The number of justifiable homicides that occur in our nation each year pale in comparison to criminal homicides, let alone gun suicides and fatal unintentional shootings. And contrary to the common stereotype promulgated by the gun lobby, those killed in justifiable homicide incidents don’t always fit the expected profile of an attack by a stranger: in 35.5 percent of the justifiable homicides that occurred in 2012 the persons shot were known to the shooter.

The devastation guns inflict on our nation each and every year is clear: more than 33,000 dead, more than 81,000 wounded, and an untold number of lives traumatized and communities shattered. Unexamined claims of the efficacy and frequency of the self-defense use of firearms are the default rationale offered by the gun lobby and gun industry for this unceasing, bloody toll. The idea that firearms are frequently used in self-defense is the primary argument that the gun lobby and firearms industry use to expand the carrying of firearms into an ever-increasing number of public spaces and even to prevent the regulation of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. Yet this argument is hollow and the assertions false. When analyzing the most reliable data available, what is most striking is that in a nation of more than 300 million guns, how rarely firearms are used in self-defense.")

****("Campus Carry Would cost Texas Colleges Millions: UH and UT systems face $47 million tab that hurt students, research." The Houston Chronicle, February 21st, 2015).

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