Since 2001, there have been 51 major mass shootings and killing sprees. Nine of those have taken place at K-12 schools or colleges leaving a total of 109 people dead and so many more injured. However, advocates of gun control and gun rights are on different sides of the same coin. Both are desperately trying to find and maintain a secure community where there is no constant fear of what we will do in the event of a mass shootings. It’s a scary time to raise kids who will know how to swiftly perform an active shooter drill by the time they are out of high school.
So I understand how, with relative ease, the conservative legislature here in Texas passed the campus carry bill that allows licensed handgun owners to enter into almost any university building. In this overwhelmingly red state, Republican legislators chose to leave the responsibility of protecting university and college campuses to armed citizens. I suppose on some level, it made sense to the legislature to impose a gun law on public colleges since most of them accept donations (ranging from $1,000 to $10,000) from the National Rifle Association. The NRA has supported the abolition of gun-free zones like universities for ages, claiming that psychotic mass murders gravitate towards these areas because they believe no one will shoot back. Therefore, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre claims the only way to stop these “bad guys with guns” is to have “good guys” gun them down first.
Pause for a minute. Who are these “good guys” with guns? What makes them qualified to protect the lives of their peers with a firearm? Is it the state-mandated six-to-eight-hour concealed carry permit class they took once?
Gun policies like campus carry do not address the more intricate problems surrounding gun violence so ingrained in our society like structural racism, zealously and toxic masculinity. These will be the constants of almost every gun horror story until we come together as a community to discuss them.
The myth that active shooters are usually looking to slaughter massive amounts of people usually isn’t the case. The assailant at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood specifically targeted this clinic because of his fanatical religious beliefs against abortion and his misogynistic tendencies. Similarly, Elliot Rodgers, the 22-year-old shooter behind the Isla Vista massacre, blamed his “tortuous” virginity on the women that rejected his sexual advances. As an “alpha male,” he planned to slaughter the girls of the “hottest sorority” taking retribution for the perceived slights he had suffered.
Laws like campus carry ignore the dark realities of our gun culture here in Texas. Worse, the minorities of our community who continue to be actively discriminated against (Muslims, the LGBTQA community, Hispanics, Blacks and women) are disproportionately more susceptible to gun violence. What’s even more terrifying is that the Texas Republican platform for 2016 is pushing to eliminate all gun-free zones (like health care facilities) and allow “constitutional carry”. Already passed in a handful of states, constitutional carry allows any citizen their “God-given right” to posses and carry a firearm without any sort of state-required training or background check.
As it gets harder and harder to tell the difference between the “good guys” who snap and criminals they so ardently claim not to be, you can see why allowing guns into our public spheres might cause more harm than good. If safety is really the main concern of everyone in this debate, then the process to obtain a firearm should reflect our caution in who exactly will be carrying these weapons around.