In May, the Texas Legislature passed a bill allowing concealed weapons on college campuses throughout Texas.
Isaac Viera/ Tejano Tribune
Mary Dean, Executive Director, speaks and answers questions regarding the recent both EPCC students and EPCC representives attend the meeting.
Texas Faculty Association (TFA) members, along with EPCC faculty, staff, and students, gathered at the Transmountain campus on Nov. 20 to discuss the bill.
Michael Coulehan, TFA president and EPCC professor, organized the meeting. He said the bill is a solution in search of a problem.
“If guns are more available, in my opinion, that’s going to make us less safe,” Coulehan said. “The argument from legislature’s side is if everybody has a gun, everybody will be safe. I’m arguing the opposite.
The more available guns are, the greater the potential for accidents and premeditated shootings because a gun is available, and it’s there in that moment. I see that as a much bigger danger than some crazy person showing up at EPCC to shoot up the place.”
Valle Verde history professor Albert Burnham is for concealed weapons being allowed on school campuses, although, he said he wouldn’t mind the age to carry to be raised.
“It’s the same reason they passed the concealed carry law to start with: self-protection,” Burnham said. “These ‘no guns allowed on campus’ laws didn’t stop the guy at Sandy Hook, didn’t stop those people at Columbine, didn’t stop any shooters at any schools. Schools are target-rich environments; nobody’s going to shoot back. We have a right to defend ourselves, and why should that right stop at a school boundary?”
Licensed concealed gun carrier, Burnham said the only time he’d use his concealed weapon is if a shooter actually came up to him.
“Somebody stands up at the door of a classroom and starts shooting, where are you going to go,”
Burnham said. “There’s nowhere to go. If someone else has a gun in the room, at least they have a reasonable chance to take out the shooter. Campus police have said their response time is two to three minutes, but a whole classroom could be shoot up before a cop ever got there. As good as they may be, the whole classroom could be shot up before the cops ever got there. With this law, maybe some of that can be prevented. Hopefully, it’ll never have to come up; but people who are against these laws like to ignore that.”
Head speaker at the meeting, TFA executive director Mary Aldridge Dean said the law will go into effect Aug. 1 for four years and the following year for two-year schools.
Dean taught history for over thirty years, and she said she felt like she had an obligation to her students to bring up controversial issues to learn public discourse.
“I wanted my students to be able to form their own thoughts, so that they disagree with somebody and have the opportunity to discuss it with them,” Dean said.
“I saw that as part of my job to do that. I think, if I was still teaching, I’d be much more hesitant to bring up things that I think would make kids go off.”
With a lack of information prior to the meeting, sophomore Emily Avelar said she was weighing both sides and in search of other options.
“There are kids here, families here,” Avelar said. “There are more reasons to not have concealed weapons on campus than there are to have concealed weapons on campus. In which case, hire more security guards. If they want us to have more protection, arm them, not the students.”