Every Tuesday, a group of University of Houston students meet up at the Taco Cabana on campus. They discuss their classes, their personal lives and the newest firearms they’ve purchased. They’re members of Cougars for Concealed Carry on Campus. This is Antoine Hythier, an early member of the club.
“We’re just trying to educate people in regards to why they shouldn’t feel afraid and why there is a very big difference between feeling safer and being safer.”
Hythier says that he is usually armed, so he doesn’t see why he shouldn’t be legally allowed to have his weapon on his person at school.
“It’s really no different than if we were here at a Taco Cabana, just on a different location. Assuming it doesn’t have a 30.06 sign designating that I cannot carry — I could legally carry here right now we wouldn’t be having this conversation and I would 9 times out of 10 have a pistol on me.”
The new student organization is advocating for CHL holders to be allowed to carry their firearms on college campuses. Right now, they don’t have any club activities planned, but they do intend on lobbying for their cause in Austin.
Other students at UH are split on the issue. While members of Cougars for Concealed Carry on Campus cite recent shootings as reasons why they should be armed, John Moran feels that weapons on campus would just lead to more shootings.
“You’re asking for an incident like you had at Lone Star a few weeks ago”
Rashad Eaglin is against private ownership of weapons, but thinks CHLs on campus could have benefits — but only if proper training is provided.
“Having guns on campus could work — as long as those people who do have arms are properly trained and know how to use their weaponry.”
The creation of the club has a lot to do with two bills in Austin that would allow CHL owners to carry weapons on college campuses. House Bill 972 and Senate Bill 182, would allow CHL holders to carry weapons anywhere on a college campus except areas that are still forbidden, such as a medical center or a daycare area for students with children. This is the author of House Bill 972, Representative Allen Fletcher from Cypress:
“We don’t have a gun problem in this country; we got a mental health problem”
Fletcher, a retired police officer, says that Texas has no record of a CHL owner being the cause of criminal gun violence. He blames gun violence and mass shootings on the people who shouldn’t own guns in the first place, such as the mentally ill.
“We’re trying to carry legislation to keep guns out of the hands of folks who don’t need them.”
But Chris Emshoss, another member of Cougars for Concealed Carry on Campus, says that kind of legislation won’t be very effective.
“That’s a slippery slope because if that’s the case, what about criminals? What about the unfortunate god awful incident at Lone Star? What about those kids? Did they have mental problems? Probably not.”
UHPD declined to comment on the pending legislation but UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa wrote to Gov. Rick Perry this week expressing his concerns that an increase in the presence of concealed handguns on campus would create an unsafe environment.
From the KUHF Newslab, I’m Conner Clifton.