University of Texas Chancellor Sends Message To Governor On Guns
Texans are often stereotyped as gun-toting cowboys, holding on to fantasies of the Wild West. Republican Governor Rick Perry has done his best to preserve this image, in part by fighting against President Obama’s gun violence prevention efforts. But Perry himself increasingly faces resistance of his own, much of it from students and administrators at the state’s colleges and universities.
Francisco Cigarroa, Chancellor of the University of Texas System, wrote a letter to the governor outlining his objections to legislation that would allow concealed handguns to be carried on college campuses.
Cigarroa wrote that concerns are that guns on campus would increase accidental deaths and suicides, and that they could make it more difficult for law enforcement to distinguish perpetrators from bystanders during a shooting.
“During my tenure as Chancellor, parents, students, faculty, staff, administrators and institutional law enforcement officers have all expressed concern that the presence of concealed weapons on our campuses will make the campus environment less safe,” he wrote.
This mirrors a national trend in which legislative efforts to allow weapons on college campuses are resisted by students, staff, and faculty.
Back in Texas, student groups including the Texas College Democrats are fighting against the proposed legislation. The group started a petition encouraging students to join in their protest.
“The opposition to guns on campus is a view widely shared by students, faculty and staff around the state of Texas,” Communications Director Danny Khalil told Campus Progress. “Governor Perry and his friends in the Texas Republican Party are intent on forcing their policies onto unwilling students.”
Khalil said polls conducted at several state campuses show that “students have overwhelmingly rejected these policies,” and that permitting guns on campuses “would be counter-productive towards creating safer campuses.”
Nationally, polling shows that while opinions are evenly split as to whether guns should be allowed on campus, young people lean towards opposing pro-gun proposals.
But, Khalil also believes that these proposals may also be a way to avoid dealing with the issues that truly matter to students.
“All of this really highlights how out-of-touch the Texas GOP is with college students, faculty and staff,” Khalil said. “Rather than address the looming problem of student debt and the rising costs of higher education, Governor Perry’s allies in the state legislature prefer policies that will ultimately harm schools—not help them.”
Kevin Jersey is a reporter for Campus Progress. Follow him on Twitter @wordsnotbullets.