Guns on Campus?
POSTED: Thursday, May 21, 2009 - 7:00am
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 3:23pm
Students Could Bring Guns on Campus If Bill Passed
EL PASO--- In backpacks and purses, come next week some Texas university students may get the go-ahead to bring guns to school.
"Why are they going to let people carry guns here? I think it's a pretty safe campus without any guns," said UTEP freshman Teresa Urbina about the newly passed Senate Bill 1164.
The bill would allow licensed gun-owners to carry concealed guns onto college campuses.
It was an idea to make sure students are protected from massacres... like the one at Virgina Tech.
But students at UTEP only think the opposite will happen.
"Someone's going to get angry at someone else, and what's going to happen is that they're all going to start pulling out their guns and possibly hurting innocent people," said UTEP senior George Mansouraty.
The bill... as is... would only exclude teaching hospitals that are run by higher ed institutions.
It also allows private and independent schools to opt out.
We asked the UTEP police chief his thoughts on the law, but he declined to tell us what he thinks about it.
"I think it's difficult to propose or project anything in the future because the legislation as you know is pending, so it would be difficult for me to comment on it at this time," said Chief Cliff Walsh.
That bill.. is now on its way to the state house.
Their deadline to vote would be this Tuesday.
But State Rep. Marisa Marquez, D-El Paso, thinks no school should have to follow this law.
"A student population in which students are armed is just asking for more tragedy, not less. The answer to campus violence is better security, alert systems, and mental health services or referrals for enrolled students," wrote Marquez in an e-mailed statement.
But Rep. Chente Quintanilla, D-El Paso, approves of the law, saying the 21-year age limit on gun licenses will help professors and staff more than students.
"I believe that a professor would have a better chance of protecting their students. I think it's a professor's duty to protect their students as best they can," said Quintanilla in a phone interview from Austin.
Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, was somewhere in the middle.
"SB 1164 is an attempt to balance safety on our campuses and our second amendment rights. The bill addresses concerns about training and also places an age limit for those that could carry a gun.
I would like to see more local control, possibly letting each university's board of regents make their own decision. If and when SB 1164 makes it to the floor it should be a lively debate," said Moody in an e-mailed statement.
Rep. Norma Chavez and Rep. Joe Pickett were unavailable for comment.
Some students we spoke with hope, if passed, the bill would at least prohibit guns at events, like tailgates, where there's alcohol involved.
That provision, offered in the Senate vote, was tabled.
Yet UTEP students say, no matter what law is in place, if there's a will, there's a way for someone to attack on campus.