Packing heat as well as textbooks?
Kris Gutierrez and our crew are doing live shots on the campus of University of Texas at Austin. Prior to Virginia Tech, this was the scene of the nation's deadliest gun violence on a college campus. Fourteen people died in 1966 when a gunman barricaded himself in the school's tower and picked off victims until he was killed by Austin police.
We're here because of a movement on this campus and others to allow students to carry guns on campus. Proponents say Texas already has a law allowing people to carry concealed handguns. Once they pass background checks and take a class, anyone over 21 can bring their guns to a variety of places — the mall, movie theaters. Advocates wonder what makes college campuses different?
And what difference would armed students have made in a situation like Virginia Tech, or, as a deterrent to the any number of individual assaults that may happen on college campuses across the country? It's an even more convincing argument when the person making it has served in the military — as many of the key proponents of this issue have. It's hard to say that a 21 year old can handle him or herself with a gun in Iraq, but not in the environment of a college campus.
Arguments against carrying guns on campus seem equally evident. Heading into your Thursday morning Lit class, do you really want to worry if the guy next to you is packing heat as well as textbooks? Opponents to carrying on campus say guns have no place in the classroom, period. They wonder whether it would actually encourage more violence. Say there's a fight between a boyfriend and girlfriend, or a drunken brawl — would these become deadly if one of the parties involved has a gun? And how about one of those worst case scenarios? Would someone with a gun make a tragic situation even more?
These are issues all of us might take time to think about. And if the passionate group of pro-gun students here in Texas has its way, Texas lawmakers will be thinking about — and taking action on the issue the next time they meet in the capitol building, which is just a few blocks away from where those fourteen people were killed so long ago.
Maggie Lineback is a Dallas bureau producer.