Texas Christian University announced Friday that it won’t allow concealed weapons on campus. That decision sets the private Fort Worth school apart from state universities that will be required to allow “campus carry.”
Under the Texas law – Senate Bill 11 – private schools are free to opt out whole sail. Other North Texas schools are still deciding what they’ll do. TCU made the decision after a semester-long campus dialogue involving faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students.
“Each of the governing groups went through their own debate on it and every group voted to opt out,” says Kathy Cavins-Tull, vice chancellor for student affairs.
TCU also held public debates and set up an email address for people to respond individually. A grad student class then coded and quantified responses. Cavins-Tull says 80 percent were opposed to allowing more guns on campus.
“You’ve got to draw a line somewhere, there’s just no place on campus for everybody toting firearms. Its’ ridiculous,” said Chad Cable, who was walking with his daughter, a TCU student, on South University Drive. He’s a proud NRA member, he says, but it’d only make things more dangerous if students had guns in class. Senior nursing major Gracie Cable says she feels safe around guns – and she feels safe enough on campus not to need one.
“I don’t personally feel like I’m in an unsafe environment. If anything you can carry mace or something, but I think a gun’s a little extreme,” she says.
John Hwan came over from Hong Kong to get a master’s in music. He says he’s thrilled with the decision, “because from where I’m from, guns are absolutely prohibited, so the idea that guns are allowed on campus is terrifying.”
“There’s not really a day that goes by that I don’t see a cop car,” says freshman Carl Richardson III. “I feel pretty secure as it is. I don’t feel threatened at all when I walk these streets.”
Richardson says he’s not a big fan of guns, generally. Sophomore Nick Adams is. But he’s ambivalent about the school’s decision to opt out. he tells me he is a gun owner, believes in the second amendment, but thinks the decision was the right one because adding guns to the mix at college parties and football games is a recipe for disaster. Still, he says, he is sympathetic to the view point that “the only way to prevent [school shootings] is for someone armed to defend the rest of the campus. So I guess when it comes down to it I don’t know what’s best.”
Caleb Chappell, the president of TCU Campus Republicans, says the college made the wrong call.
“Nothing is stopping a student from carrying on campus right now,” he says. “No one has a way to know if the guy to your right or to your left has a concealed carry weapon on them. The difference in my opinion: in the future, if TCU had opted in to campus carry, is that professor or any other student who’s law abiding would have been able to stop them.”
Chappell says he wants to keep advocating for students to be able to carry guns on campus, either by convincing the board or by lobbying legislators to close the opt out provision that allows TCU to try to stay gun free.