Perry-Castaneda Library

Sandra Villavicencio, a former classmate of Emilio Hoffman, receives a hug, as Greater Portland Baptist Church in Portland, Ore., hosted a prayer vigil Tuesday night, June 10, 2014, for the community following a shooting at Reynolds High School. (AP Photo/The Oregonian, Stephanie Yao Long)

Tuesday morning, this country experienced yet another school shooting when a 15-year-old took a gun into Reynolds High School in Oregon and opened fire, killing one student and injuring a teacher before turning the gun on himself. At one point, an assistant principal reportedly told students, “This is not a drill.”

It seems like it never is anymore. Just last week, there was another shooting, which local media outlets reported as an isolated incident, at Fort Hood. The media seems to spend so much time highlighting incidents like these, but news outlets routinely fail to mention a key factor of such shootings, namely that they often occur in gun-free zones — places like Reynolds High School, Fort Hood and even UT.

It is apparent that gun-free zones do not work to effectively curb gun violence. If you do not believe me, then take a look at the Virginia Tech massacre, the two Fort Hood mass shootings, the recent shooting at Seattle Pacific University, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the shooting in the Perry-Castaneda Library and many others. They each took place in a gun-free zone. The reality is that gun-free zones only do one thing: They disarm law-abiding citizens, specifically concealed handgun license holders. As of Dec. 31, 2013, there were 708,048 active Texas concealed handgun license holders. The charts below show the conviction rates of CHL holders compared to the rest of the state between 2008-2012. (Note: The Texas Department of Public Safety waits two years to report its data, so we do not yet have data for 2013.)

 

Now let’s compare CHL holders to those without permits as it pertains specifically to murder and manslaughter convictions over this same time span. One would assume, since CHL holders are potentially carrying a firearm daily, that their conviction rates would be astronomically higher. The data below will prove otherwise.

 

Currently, those legally allowed to own a firearm are allowed to keep that weapon locked in their car while on campus. While CHL holders cannot carry on campus, they can, legally, upon leaving campus. For example, a CHL holder can legally walk along the Drag just feet from campus, as long as they do not wander across the street onto University property. This law implies that somehow CHL holders are inherently more dangerous once setting foot on campus.

Current state Sen. and Republican nominee for lieutenant governor Dan Patrick, R-Houston, was a joint author of a campus carry bill which failed to pass last legislative session. Patrick intends to continue working to pass campus carry if elected as lieutenant governor. Also, state Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, has confirmed via phone that he plans to author another campus carry bill when the Legislature reconvenes in January. But other legislators such as state Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, intend to fight any bills of the sort. Naishtat represents the district where UT is located and says, “As long as the UT administration, along with the UT and Austin police departments, maintain their outspoken opposition to concealed carry on campus, I will unhesitatingly continue to follow their lead.”

Doubts about campus carry are valid considering firearms are nearly always portrayed as being used only by “bad guys” and cops in movies. However, let’s take a look in our own backyard. Many of us are aware there was a shooting in West Campus in late April, at a construction site near the intersection of Rio Grande Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. After having been fired from the worksite, a former employee returned to the site with a gun and began firing shots at the worksite foreman. Luckily for the foreman, who has a CHL, this was not a gun-free zone. He was able to draw his handgun and return fire at the aggressor, thus saving his life when seconds counted. There was simply not enough time to call 911 to wait minutes for a response. If campus carry were allowed, CHL holders would be able to help prevent a gunman from taking innocent lives on campus just as one did in this incident.

When seconds count, the police are minutes away. This is just a stark reality. In 2010, after a gunman opened fire in the Perry-Castaneda Library, the University and UTPD conducted an After Action review of the event. This report states that it took the first UTPD officer three minutes to arrive at the library once the department was first notified of a gunman who was carrying an AK-47, which is capable of firing approximately 600 rounds per minute. Additionally, it took more than 13 minutes before the campus sirens and loudspeaker sounded directing faculty, staff, and students into buildings for campus lockdown. By this time, the lone gunman had already committed suicide and, thankfully, had not injured anyone else.

Most importantly, in the conclusion of this report it was admitted, “that this individual could have hurt and most likely killed many individuals if he had chosen to do so.” Let that sink in for a moment and realize that the University and UTPD admit and are fully aware they cannot stop an active shooter without many potential fatalities first. We need campus carry to stop threats within seconds, not minutes, just like in the recent West Campus shooting. After all, this is not a drill.

Daywalt is a government senior from Killeen. Follow him on Twitter @JohnDaywalt.

Infographics by Omar Longoria

Campus Character Study

Astronomy senior Daniel Ozuna grew up in Ciudad Juarez, a city in Chihuahua, Mexico that is notorious for being one of the most violent cities in the world, but Ozuna said his experience is different than how the media portrays the city. 

Photo Credit: Shweta Gulati | Daily Texan Staff

Seated calmly in the sunshine outside the Perry-Castaneda Library, Daniel Ozuna looks perfectly at home in Austin. With his relaxed demeanor and perpetual smile, it comes as a surprise that this UT student grew up in one of the most violent cities in the world.

The reputation of Ciudad Juarez, a northern border city in Chihuahua, Mexico, is something 25-year-old Ozuna has been confronted with since the drug violence rose to an all time high in 2009. Ozuna was born in El Paso, but grew up in his family’s home of Juarez.

“If I go to Mexico City or anywhere in the South, they know it is my accent, so they tell me ‘Oh, your accent is weird, where are you from?,’ ‘I’m from Juarez.’ ‘Oh, where they kill people?’” said Ozuna, emulating conversation he has shared again and again with people after they discover he is from Juarez. “So, pretty much we all are used to it.”

Ozuna spoke lightly of his city’s distorted identity in between apologies for what he believes to be sub-par English. His recollection of Juarez is not of a city of violence, but a city of culture.

“I really liked the music scene in Juarez,” Ozuna said. “There were plenty of music festivals and concerts both local and nationally known. I remember one ‘[Chihuahua International Festival]’ that took place in Juarez.” 

Ozuna remains dedicated to his education, the driving force behind his move from Juarez to Austin. His high school, Centro de Bachillerato Tecnologico industrial y de servicios #114, was where he was first introduced to computer science. He received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from UT-El Paso, and is currently attending UT-Austin for a second bachelor’s degree in astronomy. 

As for the future, Ozuna plans to enter the doctorate program for computer science at UT with a specialization in artificial intelligence, which he will use to enter the specialized profession of astroinformatics. 

Finding solace in his education was harder with the media’s constant coverage of the violence in Juarez. There were few sources of information, outside of a textbook, that didn’t stream the city’s tragic news day in and day out. 

“I tried to live my life without fear,” Ozuna said. “Whenever I hear someone talk about the cartel and things, it reminds me of the news. That’s all they talk about — that’s why I stopped watching television when I was 15, 16.”

It wasn’t the information delivered by the news that displeased Ozuna, but rather, the way it was delivered. 

“I don’t watch the news because they sensationalize and exaggerate the facts,” Ozuna said. “People like dark stuff. There was one specific show, ‘La Mala Nota,’ that literally means ‘The Bad Note.’ Everything inside of that single show was negative. A whole show, for half an hour, just bad news, bad news, bad news. It was disgusting.”

Ozuna’s sister-in-law Adriana Lopez, who still lives in Juarez along with the rest of Ozuna’s family, understands the violence in a similar way.

“I know a lot of people died, but it wasn’t like in every corner you would see someone murdered,” Lopez said. “I wasn’t scared or anything because I knew I wasn’t involved with any of the cartels and all the drug violence. I knew that I was safe.”

Neither Lopez nor Ozuna have experienced Juarez’s violence personally, but even those who have share their positive view of the city. Isabel Martinez, a friend of Ozuna’s who is still living in Juarez and attending college to study literature, believes Juarez to be a special place despite her family falling victim to the violence.

“There are people who work honestly day after day,” Martinez said. “We have a lot of courage, and even though there is violence that is hurting my city, there are people like me who live our lives, have fun and go to school.”

While the violence didn’t personally affect Ozuna, he realized his perspective on campus has been influenced by his lifetime spent in Juarez.

“I was walking to my car the other day and it was dark,” Ozuna said. “I was just listening to my iPod and stuff and I was thinking, ‘If I was in Juarez, I wouldn’t be walking at night by myself.’ I am able to enjoy little details that people who grew up here wouldn’t appreciate. In that sense, I feel lucky. If you don’t experience bad things you cannot measure happiness.”

The violence in Juarez has curbed considerably in the last three years, which is welcomed news to people from Juarez — known as Juarenses — such as Daniel Ozuna, who believe the drug war to be a smokescreen masking the city they call home.

“Juarez is a good place, Juarez is not a scary place,” Ozuna said. “We all have ideas about different places, but we don’t know for sure until we live it.”

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

Library employees sold cacti, bromeliads and other plants outside the Perry-Castaneda Library on Wednesday as part of the Hearts of Texas Campaign, a recurring initiative every October to incite charitable donations from UT employees.

UT Libraries spokesman Travis Willmann said the library faculty is directly involved in the campaign, taking the plants from their own gardens.

“Most of the items sold at these events are made — or in the case of the plants, grown — by our 300 staff members,” Willman said.

The event raised $811 for the Sustainable Food Center, which seeks to increase Austinites’ access to local, healthy and affordable food. The center is about $300,000 away from having enough funds to build a $4.5-million facility in East Austin, according to the organization’s website.

Milly Lopez, a staff member at the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, said she is happy about the progress the Hearts of Texas campaign has made.

“We are one and a half weeks in and we’re already at 25 percent of our $615,000 contribution goal,” Lopez said. “We have both contribution and participation goals, but participation is our main focus.”

Gregory Vincent, vice president of the division, said he was optimistic about the rest of the month.

“It’s going extremely well, considering it’s still in the beginning stages,” Vincent said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the university community to display our commitment to the Austin community through our generosity.”

UT librarian Kat Strickland said she has always loved gardening and this was an opportunity to use her skills for a good cause.

“We decided to support the Sustainable Food Center because we support farmer’s markets,” Strickland said. “They’re the reason food stamps can be used at farmer’s markets — making local and nutritional food more available to the disadvantaged.”  

Strickland said eating processed food may be the more convenient decision, but it is not worth the costs.

“Making your own food is generally a lot cheaper than buying a meal — but growing your own food is even more so,” Strickland said.

Max Elliott, executive director of Urban Roots, said a large portion of the city’s population — mainly in East Austin — features elevated levels of diet-related disease. Elliott said many young people do not realize where their food originates from.

“Changing the environment from a public health perspective — so that there are more urban farms than fast food restaurants — would alleviate a lot of these problems,” Elliott said.

Child's Play

Cassandra Nagy, 7, and her brother Maxwell, 5, climb through bike racks before heading off with their mother to the Perry-Castaneda Library Monday afteroon.