TEXAS — An investigation into the deadly shooting at an Oregon community college that left 10 dead comes on the heels of continued campus carry debate in Texas.
“Again? Yet again, we’ve witnessed another mass shooting inside; in this case an institution of higher education,” said Texas State Provost Dr. Gene Bourgeois.
Dr. Bourgeois has been at Texas State for 25 years, and has spent time as a professor in the classroom. Thursday’s shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon continues a troubling trend nationwide. Since the beginning of the year, the New York Times reports there have been over 40 school shootings nationwide.
“It does get to be a bit depressing after a while that we can continue to see these incidents occur on our campuses, in our high schools, middle schools and elementary schools,” said Dr. Bourgeois.
Recently, students and professors on both sides of the debate rallied at the University of Texas to express their support and disapproval for the new campus carry law to go into effect next year.
“There are concerns that are being expressed by our faculty and staff and students like there are probably on every public university in the state of Texas,” Bourgeois said.
Texas State has created a task force composed of students and school officials to study the issue. The findings will be presented to Texas State President Denise Trauth. University officials report that just under 60 percent of students on campus are eligible for a concealed handgun license. But among that group, less than 2 percent actually have a license.
Students have mixed feelings on the law.
“Seeing as we have that new campus carry law going into effect, there’s going to be a lot more people [who are] able to protect themselves,” said Shilo Christian, a transfer student who is in the process of obtaining his CHL.
“I don’t think we should be allowed to do [carry guns on campus], honestly. Because sometimes we have bad days, sometimes we have good days; people’s minds change very fast, so I don’t think we should be allowed to do that,” said Shaskuia Mercado, who added overall she does feel safe on campus.
The university has several blue emergency poles through campus, where students can press a button to call for help. On top of on-campus security and university police, Dr. Bourgeois said the school works with San Marcos police, the Hays County Sheriff’s Office and Hays County EMS. Having those officers close by has provided an extra sense of relief.
Bourgeois also said officers undergo training to prepare for a school shooter or emergency.
License holders have been allowed to carry concealed handguns on campus since 1995, but the new law may permit them to take it inside a building depending on what the university decides.
The law is set to go into effect on Aug. 1, 2016. People must be 21 or older to obtain a concealed carry license. The new law will also not affect the ban on weapons at collegiate sporting events.