UH Grapples With The Guns-On-Campus Issue
The Texas Legislature is moving forward with a bill allowing concealed handguns on college campuses. Not a fan of the move: The University of Houston faculty senate. They've passed a resolution opposing the legislation.
Not a fan of the faculty resolution: Some UH students.
Seth Chandler, the law professor who authored the resolution, tells Hair Balls he has felt like the go-to guy for the anti-gun crowd on the issue even though he's on the "mild end of the opposition."
"I'm not really an anti-gun type of person," he said. "I have respect for people who disagree with me. I don't think it's a one-sided issue."
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However, he worries that there could be an arms race that leads to accidents or theft of unsecured guns.
"I do not have a concealed handgun license. If this were to pass I would consider getting one, not because I want one, but because if someone else has a gun, I want one too."
If the Austin bill passes, Frank Thomas, leader of the UH organization Students for Personal Safety, tells Hair Balls the university could control whether or not students would be able to store guns in student residences. Thomas is a first-year graduate student and spent his entire time as an undergraduate at UH. An increase in crime at UH, he said, and hearing about the bill, motivated him to found the organization that supports the bill and is interested in raising safety awareness and offering self defense classes.
"A lot of people make the argument that if you allow people to carry guns the next time they get angry they will snap and kill somebody," he said. "The assumption that they are making [is] that students and faculty are unstable enough that just adding a gun will send them over the edge. I don't think that is a valid argument."
When Texas first allowed concealed-handgun licenses (CHLs), he said, people predicted that ordinary disputes might turn into Wild West style shootouts. That hasn't happened, he said.
Kenneth Fomunung, president of the Student Government Association at UH, said that he would be very uncomfortable knowing that students could be carrying handguns on campus. He plans on putting forward a resolution against the bill in the student senate. Use of lethal weapons, he said, should be left to law enforcement.
At 20, Bradley Holubec said, he has 362 days before he can become a concealed hand gun license owner. Three weeks ago he started a chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus at UH, after he caught wind of the bill. "[CHL holders] on campus will add another layer of security," he said.
He often gets out of meetings on campus late at night and frequently encounters areas where there are no lights, no other students around, and no UHPD patrols. Campus security will never be 100 percent effective, he said. When he was eight, he was staying at his sister's friend's house when robbers broke in, grabbed him, and held a .38 to his head.
"I never want to see another gun pointed in my face," he said.
Chandler also has a personal experience. "I was assaulted by a student in my second year teaching," he said, "and that student was delusional and fortunately he did not have a gun and I did not have a gun that he could steal out of my hands and use." (During a lecture, he had a discussion about whether a case should be tried in a US court or in a Scottish court. Apparently, the student felt that at some point Chandler had insulted Scotland and his heritage.)
"I discuss issues that people get very passionate about [including] abortion," he said. "Ninety-nine percent are fine, [but if] that one percent can lawfully carry a handgun -- What is my response to that? Maybe I should brush up on my firearms training and get a concealed handgun license."
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