Afternoon interruption raises questions of concealed carry relevance
Published: Friday, November 2, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 2, 2012 01:11
In the wake of a bomb threat prompting the evacuation of the Texas A&M campus and the concealed carry debate in the Student Senate, the University was shaken again as an individual with a firearm was reported to authorities.
The woman who reported the subject to the University Police Department said she observed a man with what appeared to be a handgun in the waistband of his pants walking by the Sanders Corps of Cadets Center at 4:30 p.m.
The first Code Maroon was sent at 4:36 p.m.
UPD was immediately dispatched to the area but was unable to locate the suspect. Students were told they could resume activities but to remain cautious at 5:29 p.m.
“The entire area was searched very thoroughly so we felt that there was no longer a threat to our students and campus community,” said Lt. Allan Baron of UPD. “That’s why that decision was made.”
This event prompted the discussion of a concealed carry bill currently going through the Student Senate. The bill calls for A&M to allow individuals with a valid concealed-carry license to carry their firearm on campus and inside buildings.
Jose Luis Zelaya, curriculum and instruction graduate student, said concealed carry on campus could create panic among the student body.
“If one of the students is not careful and if their gun is seen we’re going to be having a lot of Code Maroons and panic would be really high,” Zelaya said. “Code Maroon would even lose its credibility.”
Zelaya said he felt more comfortable giving the responsibility of his safety to local law enforcement and that concealed carry may cause confusion among students.
“How do you know who has a concealed license and who doesn’t?” Zelaya said. “Which one is the good guy and which one is the bad guy? That confusion would create a lot of reports.”
Cary Cheshire, author of the personal protection bill, said Thursday’s event was not related to the purpose of the bill.
“The anecdotal evidence, either way, isn’t really what the personal protection bill or the idea of concealed carry on campus is about,” Cheshire said. “If concealed carry were a policy on campus I think we would have to handle that [event] differently, but I think it would still be handled quickly.”
Lt. Allan Baron said the issue of concealed carry would not have affected police protocol in that type of situation.
“If this individual weapon would have been concealed it would have never been seen,” Baron said. “One of the laws for concealed carry is that it has to be concealed. If it’s not concealed, it’s an issue.”