Education News

Students, Professors Debate Campus Carry Law, What Areas Should Be ‘Gun Free’

UH’s police chief said he’s considering hiring more police officers and arming security guards as campus carry takes effect.

Students and others raise their hands if they have a concealed handgun license at a forum on the new campus carry law. It takes effect next August and will allow licensed holders to carry handguns on public Texas colleges.
Students and others raise their hands if they have a concealed handgun license at a forum on the new campus carry law. It takes effect next August and will allow licensed holders to bring their weapons on public Texas colleges.

More than 100 students and faculty packed an auditorium Tuesday at the University of Houston to discuss how the new campus carry law will be implemented there.

The question is where on campus will people carry their concealed weapons and which areas will be declared gun-free. That’s the leeway granted to university presidents under the Texas law.

Leaders of the UH Campus Carry work group lead a forum on the subject
UH leaders tasked with implementing the new campus carry law inlcude Dona Cornell, general counsel, Ceaser Moore, Jr., chief of police, and Marcilynn Burke, associate dean at the UH Law Center.

“What areas or buildings on campus do you think should be excluded, and importantly why do you think those buildings should be excluded?” asked Marcilynn Burke, associate dean of the UH Law Center and also chair of the UH campus carry work group.

She got plenty of answers.

  • “I'll just state that I think we should ban them from classrooms and personal offices,” said history professor Karl Ittmann.
  • “Particularly, no guns in any staff offices where there's no protection from the public at all,” said English professor Audrey Colombe.
  • “In the military, we don't keep our weapons in the dorm rooms. We keep them in an arms room,” said student Weston Berry.
  • “I'd also say that I wouldn't want them in the building that facilitates our counseling and psychological services in the student service center,” said graduate student Lizzie Bliss.

People asked other questions like where would students store their weapons and who would pay for that gun storage.

But both sides of the debate focused on safety.

Nathan Wolanin is studying mechanical engineering and also is a veteran. He said that having concealed weapons will help people defend themselves.

“It is unimaginable to me that after all the combat I've seen, that I must be defenseless here at school and we're even having a conversation about having areas where I have to be defenseless at school,” Wolanin said.

UH staff member Lacy Johnson asked about another right.

“Even though it's not necessarily a guaranteed right in the Constitution, I would hope that you would take a stand that we should not feel terrorized coming to work or coming to go to school,” she said.

As UH prepares for campus carry, like the rest of public Texas colleges, UH Police Chief Ceaser Moore, Jr., said that he’s considering extra steps. Those include hiring more police officers and arming security guards.

The law takes effect next August.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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