In the wake of the campus shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon on Oct. 1, students and faculty have been discussing the issue of campus carry as it relates to ACU.
On June 1, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 11, which provides that CHL (concealed handgun license) holders may carry a concealed handgun on college campuses. The bill goes into effect Aug. 1, 2016, and makes Texas the eighth state to allow concealed handguns in campus facilities. However, private colleges are given the option to opt out of allowing campus carry after consulting with students, faculty and staff.
“In anticipation of the new law, we are currently still in the process of consulting with students, faculty and staff, as is required by law, and we will report that consultation and summary to the president and the senior administration of the university,” said Jimmy Ellison, ACU Police Department chief of police.
Ellison said he has been in contact with many people on both sides of the issue, and said people on each side have valid points.
“Proponents of it argue that lives could potentially be saved before law enforcement can get there,” said Ellison. “And in many cases, that could be true. Opponents of campus carry say that introducing more guns into the situation could just lead to more tragedy, could lead to police officers misidentifying someone as a gunman, and so on.”
Abby Altom, senior communications major from Huntsville, said she believes campus carry should be allowed on ACU’s campus, and the shooting in Oregon made the subject more relevant than before.
“It has definitely promoted discussion among me and my friends, especially since it’s an issue ACU is dealing with,” she said.
Students’ Association Congress voted in April to support the campus carry bill at ACU, and this decision will be included in the information Ellison relays to the university leadership.
The university leadership will have to make a decision regarding campus carry in the next few months. Ellison said he hopes the decision is made by the end of this semester or early next semester so the university can begin getting the ACU community ready for whatever that decision is.
“It’s not my role to advocate; my role is to make sure the university is in compliance with the law. I’m involved in advising the senior leadership about the findings, but the ultimate decision is up to president and the university’s leadership,” Ellison said.