Thoughts on the passage of the campus carry bill

The Texas Senate passed the “campus carry” bill yesterday, and given that the House passed it as a stand-alone bill, I see no reason why it won’t become law in the next few weeks – especially given the propensity of our gun-toting governor to cap coyotes on his morning jog. But, even after months of thinking about how I feel about this bill, I haven’t come to any real conclusions. Mostly because I think arguments on both sides are overly politicized and largely naive. Like most issues in Texas, its hard to come to a final conclusion because people are insane.

In the past few weeks, I’ve gotten press releases from everyone on every side of this issue. They all rant and rave about the lies the other side is telling and how wrong the other side is. The thing is, none of their arguments are convincing and they are all just whining about the unfair politics and sly tactics the opponent is using to forcibly convince the Texas Senate of their “ridiculous” point. I find this unappealing.

But, just for fun, let’s break down a few of their arguments.

On the pro side, we have such choice contenders as Texas College Republicans, OpenCarry.org and Students for Concealed Carry on Campus.

Their main point is that it is a right, and it should be exercised. And, according to the press release I received in my inbox today from Texas College Republicans, this is also a “safety bill.” I find both of these things absurd.

I think their first point is best displayed in OpenCarry.org’s motto: “A Right Unexercised is a Right Lost.” If they really believe this, then they don’t have a very good grasp on the point of the Bill of Rights. Must I carry a gun to ensure I have the option of doing so? No. I also have the right to a trial by jury, should I run out and mow over someone in my car just so I can make sure I exercise that right before I die? No. In the event that I do mow over someone in my car and choose a plea bargain instead of a right to a speedy trial, have a lost the right to a trial by jury? No. I have chosen not to exercise it. You select which rights you want to use. One of the main reasons these gun fanatics are so unattractive to average citizens is because they cram this “own-a-gun-or-die” mentality down everyone’s throat. I’m sorry, I would rather not have a lethal weapon strapped to my hip. Is that a problem with you? Clearly I’m not a patriot. I apologize.

And while I understand that carrying a weapon is clearly a “right” provided by the Bill of Rights, I don’t think the rights provided in that document are absolute in that they should be exercised everywhere without regard for your location. Just like you can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater, you probably should be able to carry loaded guns into certain places. Texas Concealed Handgun laws dictate that you can’t have them on school busses, in hospitals, within a certain number of feet of a liquor store and at racetracks, among other things. There are simple reasons for all of these. There are children in some of them, emotions and liquor run high in others. Should we be able to carry guns in all of these places too since it is our “right” to do so? I would be interested to hear that argument.

But I don’t take so much issue with that as I do the idea that this is a matter of “safety.” I don’t know about you, but I would rather have a trained police professional take out a crazy man with a gun than the kid that sits in the back of my political theory class that happened to go through a CHL training course. He is no more equipped to handle the intense emotion of that situation than I am. On the other hand, the cop is. While, yes, some things happen quickly and it would be nice to have someone take down the bad guy immediately, all kinds of hell would break loose if that kid were to fire and miss; We would have a shoot out on our hands. But in any case, my argument here could be quelled by more stringent training requirements to get the CHL in the first place. My issue here, I suppose, is not necessarily that Pete in the back of my theory class has a gun, but more that he is completely unprepared to handle that situation because the CHL classes take days instead of weeks and require minimal training in emergency preparedness. If your argument is that these people can protect us then they should be able to, and right now they can’t. But from what I know about these gun enthusiasts, they probably wouldn’t support more stringent requirements to the CHL laws because that would limit someone’s rights since the license would be harder to get. So we’re back at square one.

But the other side is not without it’s faults.

On the neg side, we have all kinds of anti-gun groups like the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and so on.

They argue that college students are unreasonable and use drugs and alcohol frequently and commit petty crimes. While I find this convincing on face, college students, just like every other person in the state of Texas, must abide by CHL law, which says that if you were convicted of a class B misdemeanor or higher within five years of applying or your license, you can’t get one. And if you commit one while you have it, it will be taken away. Additionally, most students don’t drink or do drugs on campus. If they do these things, they happen off campus where their concealed weapons would still be allowed. Let’s keep in mind that people over the age of 21 are allowed to have concealed handguns, just not on college campuses. This odd reason for not allowing college students to carry guns on campus doesn’t prevent them from having guns, or from taking them to a party where they might be snorting lines of cocaine. Because, I’m sorry, college kids aren’t stupid enough to do that in their dorm room (or most of them aren’t, anyway).

They also argue that it would distract from learning. Well, the point of a concealed weapon is that they are “concealed.” I would, theoretically, have no idea if the guy next to me was packing heat or if the sorority girl walking past me had a glock in her Louis Vuitton hand bag. So, that seems silly. Additionally, after a while the idea that people were allowed to have handguns would become normal. I’m not distracted from grocery shopping because some guy might have a gun somewhere on the cereal aisle. It’s a fact of life. We live in Texas. Chances are, if I was to stop everyone cold in WalMart and make an annoucement over the loud speaker asking for all carriers of concealed handguns to come to the check out stand, I would have a bit of a line on my hands.

Also, the idea that this law would turn college campuses into a war zone is silly. Most people who go through the process of getting a CHL aren’t insane, even though some anti-gun advocates would like you to believe they are. Additionally, the majority of students wouldn’t even be able to carry one. You have to be 21 to get a CHL. So only about 1/4 of the student body will even be eligible.

Mostly, I just think that the opposition has a lot of arguments that are purely meant to appeal to emotions instead of fact.

In the end, I don’t know who I side with. So I guess the point of this post is to point out the utter ridiculousness of both sides’ arguments in light of the recent passage of this bill. I’m quite sure that neither side has rallied as many supporters to their cause as they imagine, and its because people aren’t stupid and see right through what they are saying.

The campus carry bill is example A of why the state of Texas needs to cool down and start practicing intelligent politics.

Posted by on May 10, 2011. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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