Open carry law allows college students to pack heat

Carson Myers, Staff Writer

The Texas legislature has passed an open carry bill that will allow citizens to carry weapons places they were never allowed before -- including college campuses.

The open carry bill passed through the State House and Senate and was signed by Republican Gov. Gregg Abbott. The new law, called SB11, allows citizens to openly carry weapons in public only if they are licensed to do so. Police also have the ability to question any citizen carrying a gun to see if he/she has a license. The 850,000 Texas residents who have concealed carry permits will now be able to carry their weapon in a visible holster. To qualify for an open carry permit, applicants must be at least 21 years of age and pass a background check.

The topic of gun legislation has become one of the most explosive issues among Americans. This should not come as a surprise. The FBI classifies a mass shooting as a single incident where four or more people are killed by a gunman. There have been 146 mass shootings in the past ten years alone. Gun legislation can be difficult to pass since most of the legislative body is either stridently pro-gun control or anti-gun control. 

 The Capital Building in Austin, Texas. Courtesy of freeimages.com.

The Capital Building in Austin, Texas. Courtesy of freeimages.com.

Texas may be the first state that has found a middle ground.

The new law meansanyone who fits the criteria for openly carrying a gun may now do so on college campuses as well. While many are worried this will increase campus violence, many citizens say that campus carry has the potential to stop school shootings.

Margaret Stuckey is a junior at North Greenville University and she believes that armed students could create a safer learning environment.

“Open carry legislation will increase the confidence of students,” Stuckey said. “Armed students could reduce the number of casualties or stop school shootings altogether.”

 University of Texas, Austin. Courtesy of freeimages.com.

University of Texas, Austin. Courtesy of freeimages.com.

The new law in Texas has prompted lawmakers in other states, including Georgia, to put campus carry bills up for a vote. Although this legislation was passed 98-47, many universities are unsure if these measures will make schools safer.

Recent shootings at schools and colleges are fresh on the minds of Americans. A group of 280 professors employed by the University of Texas system have started Gun-Free UT, an organization that seeks to ban guns on all of UT’s campuses. 

Whether the new legislation will make Texas students safer remains to be seen. However, it is a big step that has been gaining traction and could impact universities around America.