Quick heart beats. Adrenaline. Walking faster. Looking around wary of every person and thing near you, even if they don’t look particularly suspicious or intimidating to you. Making a quick prayer in case the current moment is your last, not feeling like you’ve done in enough in your life. This is the fear that campus carry can give people whenever they’re on campus grounds, not to mention elsewhere. Once a place where students could feel safe to learn, the new rule has opened what was once somewhat of a safe haven to even more harm.
According to the new Texas law, universities can’t make any rules prohibiting concealed carry except in dormitories. This is unfair for many reasons, particularly because a policy this significant and influential should be up to the university. UNT’s campus carry became effective on August 1, 2016, making the policy relevant and influential on the TAMS community. As TAMS students, we’ve become exposed to this threat to colleges even earlier in our academic careers than normal, making it especially relevant to us.
College is a place of discussion, and naturally differing ideas and perspectives arise. The introduction of campus carry brings a new, intimidating element to the component of discussion at university. As one of the provided articles mentions, campus carry makes it easier to harm others more than it supposedly better arms students to defend against attacks. Clashing opinions and prejudices were already potential risks to safety; now they could become a significantly higher risk to students. Though it is still illegal to confront anyone with violence, students could now be potentially confronted with gun violence (at least now with a legal excuse to back them up) in even public areas on campus, not just privately hunted down for. Within moments, students are more likely now with campus carry to be harmed or even killed for prejudices and opinions held against them. This is especially frightening to people who could be discriminated against for things such as their religion, gender, race and ethnicity, and many other things. As TAMS students, the dislike for us that some UNT students might harbor could potentially be something to add to that list.
The impact the increasing threat to safety from the policy has to people can be absolutely terrifying. In seconds our life could turn for the worse, if we even survive the violence that could befall us, and mainly just for things we don’t even have much control over. We could end up seriously damaged for a while, maybe even permanently, which would affect almost all aspects of our lives. On the mental level, we would permanently be touched.The level of fear for violence would definitely increase and that can lead to multiple things such as a an increase of distrust, paranoia, decreasing ability to go out alone and much more. Any level of violence and threats, even if it doesn’t result in physical harm, can leave permanent scars on people.
This is not an issue that we can take lightly. Especially for those of us who already deal with prejudice for factors out of our control, campus carry can impact us significantly for the rest of our academic careers. It is a threat, not an aid as the advocates of the policy might believe, to our safeties. We need to stand together now more than ever and help each other with potential prejudices we might face. There are plenty of small things we can do for each other to help face this newfound risk, such as walking with your friends to classes or to wherever they don’t feel safe travelling alone. And finally, in this case especially but in general as well, we’re all here for each other. For all of you who have been feeling scared to go out alone, or are even just scared of the threats you face in general, don’t hesitate to reach out to your family, friends, or TAMS admin about it. It’s never too late to ask for help, especially with something as important as your safety; it’s definitely worth the effort. Please, everyone, try to stay safe because we all care about you. Any harm and worry you have is something all of the TAMS community will care about, and it shouldn’t go by unsaid.
Here are some links related to the campus carry/guns in schools issue: