After a series of tumultuous events and heated debates, UT students can rest assured that measures to allow students to carry guns on campus will not be permitted. Last week, Sam Cummings, a conservative federal judge in Lubbock, Texas, dismissed the National Rifle Association’s challenge to a Texas law prohibiting teenagers and adults ages 18 to 20 from carrying concealed weapons in the case Jennings v. McCraw. Partnering with UT’s Student Government, the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project fought to defend the law that will help ensure our safety on campus.
Citing the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, the NRA urged that this law be altered to give teens as young as 13 access to concealed weapons in public. The judge disagreed with this extreme interpretation of the Second Amendment. Instead he opted to follow the wisdom of other courts around the country that have prohibited weapon concealment around parks and playgrounds, and he noted that this right does not “extend beyond the home.” The Brady Center fought against the NRA’s challenge, declaring in a brief that studies demonstrate that persons under 21 may lack the same insights and judgment that adults possess. Furthermore, persons aged 18 to 20 fall within the range of the highest rates of homicide and criminal gun possession. Their brief effectively demonstrated the dangers of underage gun possession, helping to close this irrational case.
The issue of gun control is close to the University’s heart because of the incident involving an armed individual our campus faced in 2010. But even prior to this event, the issue of guns on campus was highly contentious, with many viewing the number of college shootings in recent years as clear evidence that guns should be prohibited on campus. As school becomes increasingly competitive around the country and mental health issues are becoming more common, allowing young adults to carry concealed weapons on campus would create a dangerous environment, threatening not just other students, faculty and staff but the weapon wielders themselves.
With the responsibility and potential dangers that come with concealed weapon privileges, the utmost precaution must be taken. The Lubbock judge was able to distinguish this fact without constructing constitutional rights.
Critics of the Texas law argue that 18-year-olds may enlist in the army and are responsible for carrying weapons at this age and that, consequently, all 18-year-olds should be afforded this privilege. This irrelevant argument attempts to equate a situation in which 18-year-olds are highly trained and supervised with a situation of an untrained 18-year-old interacting in normal settings with only a permit.
According to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , there were 1,547 gun-caused deaths in the United States among people between 18 and 19 years old during 2007, which illustrates the danger of gun use in this age group.
With recent assaults in West Campus calling for the need of a safer campus environment, permitting concealed weapons for young adults is not the answer. Increasing safety education and the use of programs such as UT’s SURE Walk will better ensure students’ safety. Moreover, working to raise awareness of stress and mental illness and removing the stigma surrounding seeking medical help in these cases will further improve the well-being of students. Fortunately, the federal court judge made the right call on this issue and thereby helped to increase our safety.
Waliany is a Plan II and government senior.