Guest Column: Scope adjustment
Robbie Cimmino: Concealed handgun carry bill should be reconsidered
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 02:10
The “Texas A&M Personal Protection Bill” was introduced into Student Senate and sent to committee for review at Wednesday’s Senate meeting. The bill calls on Texas A&M and the state to change the current policies related to concealed carry of firearms on public universities.
As a first draft, the bill will be revised and reintroduced for a vote, but I think it has aspirations above and beyond campus regulations.
The bill, as it’s written now, asks for sweeping permission that students, faculty, staff and guests with a concealed handgun license be able to carry firearms onto all University property, including buildings and residence halls. It also prevents public universities across Texas from seeking disciplinary action against student, faculty and staff who are in accordance with state law.
These requests are broad, vague and inconsiderate to local legislation and policies at public universities in Texas.
This bill does not offer any potential restrictions for concealed carry at any locations on University property. It also does not allow universities to make policy that punishes individuals who bring concealed weapons to locations they feel are not welcome (i.e. Kyle Field). Not only will this have an effect on Texas A&M’s ability to govern itself, this bill encourages this policy to extend to other public universities. In fact, the bill specifically asks that the State of Texas change current laws to “prevent public universities from creating policies seeking disciplinary action” on individuals who meet state requirements. The focus should be maintained on Texas A&M’s policy.
Although the Student Senate’s intent is to be a representation of the student body, it does not listen when the student body speaks. Two years ago, the student body participated in a referendum asking their opinion on this issue. More than half of the students who voted said they were not in favor of a similar policy.
Students in support of this legislation have made the powerful argument that the opinion of the majority should not limit the rights of the minority, especially if it is related to personal protection. As an advocate for social justice, I fully stand behind that sentiment. However, The Supreme Court decision, District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), granting individuals the right to “possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense in the home” commands attention in section 2 of the decision.
“The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on […] laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings […].” This specifically states that the Second Amendment does not protect concealed carry on campus.
Personal protection is very important to a happy and successful Texas A&M student experience. I, along with the students that introduced this bill, have good intentions, but this needs to be carefully considered before being reintroduced for a Senate vote.
Robbie Cimmino is a senior agriculture, leadership and education development major and off campus senator.