10 May, 2009

Guns in Our Schools Coser to Reality

House bill 1893, which would allow concealed handgun licensees (CHL) to carry concealed guns into classrooms and buildings at our state's colleges and universities, will go to a vote Monday in the Texas House of Representatives. If it passes there it will go to the Senate for a vote and then on to Governor Perry, who has vowed to sign it into law.

If you care, please come down on Monday and make your voice heard. We'll be going door to door educating House members about issues not considered under this sweeping legislation. What about the elementary school on our campus (and undoubtedly others)? What about the child care facility in my department's building? What about chemical labs, where you are not even allowed to bring your mobile phone for fear of causing a spark? There is a bar on our campus, will the existing ban on concealed weapons in a bar apply or not? What about the dorms? How will a resident in a dorm store their gun? Will visitors be allowed to keep their gun on them or have to turn it in at the desk? Will residence hall advisers, students who live in the dorm and oversee students, be trained on how to deal with gun issues?

We'll also be sitting in on the House session in the gallery, wearing our school colors, to hopefully remind the Reps. that it will be students, and the currently-gagged faculty and staff, who will be affected by this bill. If you are studying for finals, come study in the gallery with us. Please come down to the Capitol and join us!

This is bad policy at its worst.
Call your Representatives - find their contact info at the Texas Leg website - and let them know that guns do not belong in our schools. Tell them NO on HB 1893.

Salaam.

4 comments:

Paul Ready said...

Hi there. I linked to your blog from a discussion board. I'm a law student who actually supports concealed carry on campuses. I'd be happy to answer some of your apparent concerns about what this law will do, in hopes that they may be alleviated.

Federal and State law forbid carrying guns in elementary schools, public or private. The law doesn't affirmatively make carrying guns on campus legal, it just removes existing prohibition, only in regard to the college. The existing prohibition on carry in elementary schools will stay untouched. Thus, even if an elementary school sits on a college campus, it stays "gun free."

Concealed handgun licensees will be able to carry into the childcare facility in your building, just like they do at private childcare facilities all over the country without incident every day. The children won't be carrying, and concealed handguns are usually snapped securely in holsters when carried by licensed adults, so there aren't any foreseeable safety problems here.

Cell phones are prohibited from chem labs by policy and suggestion, not state law. Lab teachers are still free to suggest that handguns not enter sensitive labs, just the same as they do for cell phones, if the law is removed with regard to guns. I'm sure licensees will be willing to oblige. Licensees carry to enhance personal safety. It would stand to reason that they would stop carrying when doing so starts detracting from their own safety and that of those around them.

The ban on guns in bars still applies. (same reasoning as the elementary school discussion above)

Your university is free to adopt its own policy about storage of guns in dorms. You can even participate in helping develop rules you're comfortable with! Just go to your student government and let them know what you want.

Visiors will be allowed to keep their guns on them. That's sort of the point of this whole thing. This isn't a public danger as licensees are about as likely to commit a violent crime as police officers, and anyone carrying without a license is breaking the law anyway, so this change in the law won't affect the kinds of "visitors" i think you're concerned about.

Training residence hall advisors how to enforce school policy, like the policies your school will adopt about dorm storage, is the province of the school. As any licensee will already be trained and certified in gun safety and nonviolent dispute resolution, even if your school does not train its RA's, rest assured the people who have legal, permitted guns already know what they're doing.

Loyal Oppositon said...

Are youinterested in a philosophical debate about the issue or is your mind already made up? Why do you think "This is bad policy at its worst."

Aicha Qandisha said...

Paul & LO, thanks for the responses.

LO, while I value debate I do feel that these bills, as written would constitute bad policy for a variety of reasons: the bills put forth a reactive versus proactive solution to a "problem" that is extremely rare (given the major argument) and they do not take into account realities on the ground. I am not anti-gun, just anti- guns in schools. Yeah, on this, my mind is made up. Otherwise I'd have slept in an not been working to educate lawmakers on why so many students, faculty and campus law enforcement also do not support this legislation.

Paul, while I appreciate snarky comments myself, I am pretty sure that if we have people still in childcare after 21 years then we've got bigger issues to deal with immediately.

I do appreciate you providing responses that many of the lawmakers who authored/co-authored the bill cannot. Many staffers I spoke to, some of whom were CHLs, couldn't respond to the issues.

Why is it not ok in an elementary school, but ok in a daycare facility? Snaps or no snaps, all the teachers and parents of small children I've spoken to are not comfortable with the idea at all. In your studies on the issue, have you seen any statistics as to how many LDCPs are CHLs? Or something similar. I would be curious to see how large a group that is.

None of us working against this bill have ever put forth that we feel CHLs are simply a bunch of nutjobs. To go through the trouble and training is great. I have guns in my family and have shot with relatives out on their property in the past. By the way, they don't like the bills either.

This bill is getting traction as a way to prevent "another Virginia Tech." CHL training is not the tactical, situational training that law enforcement - including campus police - maintains to deal with such situations in order to handle tactical responses. If they go even two months without such training, they may lose those skills.

What would help? Improved funding for mental health services in our communities and on campus (Cho was unable to get the help he needed) and better support for law enforcement are two things we've heard in our discussions with law enforcement and community members.

Aicha Qandisha said...

Paul, what discussion did you link from, please?