Pursuant to Dr. Moreiras' e-mail below, please consider my comments with respect to the pending legislation which would allow concealed handguns to be carried on campus:
I am a graduate student in the Department of Hispanic Studies. As part of my graduate assistantship I also teach Spanish classes to undergraduate students. As both a teacher and student, then, I am directly and personally impacted by the pending legislation to direct universities to allow concealed handguns on campus. I strongly oppose the proposed legislation.
Before returning to A&M in 2007 I served for twenty years as an active duty Marine Corps officer. I retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2005. My career as an infantry officer included service in combat and multiple overseas assignments where I carried a handgun as part of my duties. I completed several weapons training programs during my service in the Marine Corps, including the High Risk Personnel Course in Quantico, Virginia, a course specifically oriented toward applying deadly force with a handgun. I qualified as a pistol expert (the highest qualification level) every year I was required to re-qualify except one. I provide all this information to support the proposition that I am not anti-handgun, per se.
I am, however, strongly anti-handgun-on-campus for two principal reasons: the insufficiency of the licensing program and the relatively high probability of a of a negligent discharge (if the legislation were passed) versus the low probability of a homicidal gunman on a shooting rampage.
First, the ten-day concealed handgun licensing course, per the Texas Concealed Handgun Laws for 2009-2010, only allows for ten to fifteen total hours of instruction on a total of four subjects; one of which includes laws relating to weapons and the use of deadly force. (source
- http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/InternetForms/Forms/CHL-16.pdf). This is a woefully insufficient amount of time to work through all the possible scenarios for when deadly force may or may not be legally appropriate on a college campus.
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeGD7r6s-zU) even a presumably highly trained professional can accidentally fire a weapon that he or she assumes to be unloaded.
I ask that my classroom not be weaponized. I cannot think of any single element which would more profoundly and completely damage the collegiality of the classroom environment. We need to continue to be diligent in identifying emotionally disturbed people in the classroom, getting them the help they need, and when necessary, removing them from the campus. I firmly believe that the proposed legislation to allow concealed handguns on campus is not only unnecessary, but would, in fact, do great harm to the university.