Texans Are Up in Arms Over Guns on Campus

One proposed bill would allow those with handgun licenses to openly carry their weapons. The other would allow them to carry concealed handguns on campus.

By Laura RiceFebruary 12, 2015 9:41 am|

Senate Bill 11 is the so-called “campus carry” bill. It’s the bill that really seems to have the support to pass. Nineteen of the Texas Senate’s 20 Republicans have signed on as co-authors of the bill – but there’s also some outspoken opposition, including brand-new University of Texas System Chancellor Admiral William McRaven.

McRaven is best known for leading the raid that killed Osama bin Laden – and he says he’s fought his whole life for the right to bear arms. But he also told the Texas Tribune he doesn’t want Texas lawmakers to allow guns on campus:

“As I understand the way the bill is being proposed or has been written is that they don’t allow campus carry at sporting events. Why is that? It’s because passions run high at sporting events and because the alcohol is introduced along with passions running high,” McRaven said. “So I got it, passions run high at a sporting event. But if you’re a student who’s got a failing grade who thinks that grade is your life – how much higher is that passion? If you’re a person in a hospital and a loved one is sick and ill and you think the doctor caused that – how much higher is that passion?”

McRaven says if lawmakers do pass the bill that he’ll follow the rules, but a UT-Austin student hopes it doesn’t come to that. Danielle Vabner’s little brother Noah was killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.

“He was just really full of life and he loved super heroes and, you know, all of those things that 6-year-old boys love,” Vabner says. “And I’m still, two years later, trying to wrap my head around that it happened in a place where he was supposed to be safe. And that kind of translates over to now with SB 11 I kind of feel the same way. This is a place where I want to feel safe and knowing that guns could be anywhere on campus is really unsettling to me.”

But there are plenty of people who support SB 11. They argue carrying weapons is a constitutional right and that their right shouldn’t end when they step on campus.

Paul Thompson is a high school junior right now. He says he hopes when he gets to college that concealed handguns will be allowed on campus – especially in light of this country’s history of school shootings.

“Maybe it wouldn’t have happened if people were carrying on campus. Maybe that wouldn’t have gotten that far and escalated that quickly,” Thompson says. “Yeah, if I could carry on campus, I would definitely carry on campus. I would feel safer as a person.”