As I mentioned a couple days ago, the Texas Homeland Security and Public Safety committee held hearings yesterday on the proposed legislation that would allow permit holders to carry concealed firearms on Texas university campuses. There was a rather large showing from both sides of the issue, so much so that they had to open an “overflow” room to give everyone a seat. Nevertheless, I stuck it out and added my voice to the conversation . . .
The vast and overwhelming majority of people opposed to this legislation cited the old party line that allowing guns in classrooms would stifle debate. You know the routine; kids in class would be afraid that another student with a gun would disagree so violently with the discussion taking place that they would whip out their weapon and start shooting. That they would feel scared in such an environment, and it wouldn’t be conducive to learning.
I’m not sure how many of the psych students testifying stopped to consider whether any of that fear was due to projection on their part, but nevertheless they parroted that line of argument over and over again. Despite the fact that concealed carry holders are five times less likely to commit a murder than the average citizen.
The rebuttal from the other side of the aisle was that gun free zones made those students with CHLs feel unsafe due to the lack of security, and that their feelings were just as valid as those who were (wrongly?) afraid of students popping a cap in their ass for overly vigorous classroom debate.
Another popular argument was the old chestnut about how since college kids are all drunk and stoned, they can’t possibly be responsible enough to handle a concealed firearm. Which is the same argument (albeit dressed a little differently) as saying all poor people and those who don’t live in cities are too dumb for their own good and can’t be trusted with guns. It’s an elitist argument for denying the right to self defense because the student/hick/low-income individual is perceived as being below the observer in terms of intelligence and responsibility. That’s pretty much as arrogant as it gets.
Also popular (as ever) was the purely emotional argument. In fact, one group of ladies argued that letting guns onto college campuses would make professors “sitting ducks.” And they illustrated this point by handing out rubber duckies to the committee members, asking them to remember the ducks when making their decision. There was no mention of the faculty members whose lives could have been saved if they had been carrying a gun, or the fact that illegal guns are already on campus every day. Just the incoherent argument that students might go crazy and therefore shouldn’t have guns.
The last frequently heard argument pointed out that if trained police officers can miss their target so often, then the average student would only be worse, causing more harm than good. And that argument led directly into my testimony.
I signed up late, so I was the second to last speaker on the schedule. However, I like to think I did a pretty damn good job if I do say so myself. Drawing on my (now rusty) debate club skills, I stood up and gave the committee a synopsis of the simulated school shooting experiment we ran not too long ago, providing the highlights as they pertained to the proposed legislation. When I had finished, more than one person on the committee was asking me for a copy of the full results, as well as a number of audience members.
As I walked back to my seat, person after person came up to me to shake my hand for presenting some relevant and factual data for the debate instead of trotting out the usual talking points. Including one rather cute girl who was with the Texas Firearms Freedom group (if you’re reading, what’s your number?).
From what I could tell, it looks like the committee will pass these bills onto the full house for a vote. There were two solid members who appeared to have already made up their mind in favor of the bills, and nodded along with the pro-carry testimony. For the rest, none of them seemed particularly moved by the anti-carry folks. The real question is whether this will make it through the full house and senate this year.