Following the violence earlier this month at Oregon’s Umqua Community College, gun rights supporters again called for laws to allow for more firearms on college campuses, like the campus-carry law the Texas Legislature passed earlier this year.
A string of shootings at Texas Southern University since late summer, however, hint at another kind of gun violence that college administrators opposed to campus carry fear could increase once Texas’ law takes effect next year. Rather than a headline-grabbing mass shooting, TSU has instead seen brief flashes on gun violence since late August on or near campus, some of which appear to stem from arguments or altercations that turned deadly because of guns. In just the past six weeks, there have at least four shootings on or near the TSU campus, killing two people and wounding at least four others.
Late Friday morning TSU administrators put the school on lockdown and canceled classes after two students were shot near the Tierwester Oaks and University Courtyard apartments. One student was killed and another wounded. The incident followed a Thursday night shooting in the parking lot of that same on-campus apartment complex, though police haven’t yet said if the shootings were connected.
Last Tuesday, officials said one man was shot on Tiger Walk, a major TSU campus thoroughfare, during an argument. In Late August, another argument turned deadly when, according to police, 20-year-old Darrius T. Nichols began firing a gun into a crowd near where Friday’s shooting took place, striking two victims. Nichols was charged with murder after one of the victims, LaKeytrick Quinn, 24, died.
Private schools are currently evaluating if and how they’ll implement the state’s new campus carry law, which allows concealed handgun license holders to pack heat on campuses. While the law gives private colleges and universities the ability to opt out, *as a public university TSU doesn't have that option. Here's what TSU President John Rudley told KHOU after Friday’s shooting:
“Too many guns are accessible to students and to people in general in our community. I mean, we have guns everywhere. I was interviewing students, they told me a gun only costs 100 to 300 dollars and everybody can get one. So we’re dealing with it here. I don’t want to be the in the position that we have to explain why our students are dying. … So the law says we’ve got one year, until next fall, to come up with a solution, to establish safety zones. I think we should establish the entire university as a safety zone.”
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University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven is also among those who have pushed hard against the law, telling CNN this week, “I’ve spent my whole life around guns. I grew up in Texas hunting. I spent 37 years in the military. I like guns, but I just don’t think having them on campus is the right place.” One UT professor has already said he’ll quit once guns are allowed on campus.
Some UT students say they’ll protest the law by openly carrying dildos to class. Wrote UT student Jessica Jin in a Facebook post that’s since gone viral: “Starting on the first day of Long Session classes on August 24, 2016, we are strapping gigantic swinging dildos to our backpacks in protest of campus carry. …You’re carrying a gun to class? Yeah well I’m carrying a HUGE DILDO.”
*Correction 9:50 a.m.: An earlier version of this story incorrectly called TSU a private university. The Houston Press regrets the error.