School shootings are not a recent trend. On August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman, a University of Texas student, killed 14 people and wounded 32 others from the campus’ bell tower. Almost 41 years later, Seung-Hui Cho, a student at Virginia Tech University, killed 32 people in the deadliest shooting by a single gunman on a school campus in U.S. history.
The average student might be outraged, confused or frightened by the frequency of school shootings, and understandably so. But allowing students with a Concealed Handgun License, CHL, to carry firearms on campus poses more dangers than benefits – especially at ACU, where the highly trained ACUPD can enter a building and engage a shooter once a three-officer team has assembled.
A bill that would prohibit public universities in Texas from instating any rule that forbids CHL-holding students from bringing their firearms on campus has passed the committee in the House and awaits a vote. The House bill would not apply to private institutions, but a similar bill in the Senate will.
“Chances for passage in the House – if it gets there – look strong, as 76 members have signed on to support the bill . in the Texas Senate, 13 members have pledged support for an identical measure,” according to the Houston Chronicle.
Jimmy Ellison, ACU chief of police and member of the Texas Association of College and University Police Administrators’ executive board, said the TACUPA fought to exempt private institutions from the bill and is in the “middle of the road” on the issue. Ellison stressed his personal dedication.
“On the surface it seems like an easy fix, but the flipside is there are lots of things to think about,” Ellison said. “I understand the CHL holders’ desire to defend themselves, but I also have a responsibility to the masses.”
A dangerous situation he described was that of a CHL holder living in a residential hall, particularly if his or her roommate is not licensed. He also said the officers’ mission in an active-shooter situation is to enter a building, find the shooter, engage and terminate the threat.
“Imagine: one of my officers rounds a corner and there’s a CHL-holding student standing there with a weapon,” Ellison said.
In addition to Ellison’s scenarios, other dangers exist.
In an active-shooter situation, decisions are made in a split second, under an extreme amount of pressure and terror – which also could result in indecision, poor decisions and “freezing.”An armed student is no guarantee of safety.
If either of the current bills or a similar one is signed into law, we implore ACU administrators to continue the disallowance of CHL-holding students to carry firearms on campus.