Texas is not the first state to have concealed weapons in college classrooms, and in other states with campus carry, the controversy behind the law has died down, accompanied only by minor gun-related accidents at some universities.
Texas became the eighth state to sign legislation allowing concealed carry on campus last year. Since it was introduced, Gun Free UT, an anti-campus carry organization, has said accidental discharges are one of the concerns they have with guns on campus since incidents have occurred at other universities.
“The International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators took a position in 2008 coming out against carry on college campuses, noting in their paper there isn’t any credible evidence that carrying concealed guns will reduce violence on campus,” said Hannah Shearer, staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “Conversely, there’s an increased potential for accidental discharge or misuse of guns.”
Nicholas Roland, U.S. history doctorate candidate, has a license to conceal carry and says modern handguns can’t just go off on their own.
“Accidental discharge is a misleading term. We need to talk about negligent discharges,” Roland said. “If a firearm goes off in 2016, it’s because someone pulled the trigger — and that’s negligence.”
In September 2014, a professor at Idaho State University accidentally shot himself in the foot during class. The gun was not in a holster, and it went off while it was in the professor’s pocket.
Idaho’s campus carry law went into effect in July 2014, and at the time, college and university presidents opposed it. Stuart Summers, associate vice president for marketing and communications at ISU, said the controversy surrounding the law on campus has faded.
“It’s died down significantly,” Summers said. “In the beginning we had people concerned and misinformation. Now we’ve had a few years to wrap our heads around it.”
The UT campus carry policy states a license holder must carry their handgun in a holster that completely covers the trigger and the entire trigger guard area at all times. The holster must have sufficient grip on the handgun to retain it in the holster when subjected to unexpected jostling.
At the University of Idaho, there has not been a significant safety issue relating to concealed handguns aside from one incident, according to Matt Dorschel, executive director of public safety and security at the University of Idaho.
“We have had one incident [where] a person that had a concealed firearm inadvertently showed the firearm,” Dorschel said to The Daily Texan over the summer. “They were bent over and someone else observed the firearm.”
According to University policy, it is illegal to display a firearm anywhere on UT campus, and if a firearm is seen on campus, UTPD should be called immediately. The handgun must be on the owner at all times or secured in their car, where it should be hidden.