Commerce – As a vote nears to possibly give Texas college students and professors the right to carry guns on campus, a local student representative gives his take.
Texas A&M University-Commerce Student Body President Taylor Fore says that while he sees both sides of the argument, he and the rest of the Student Senate feel that allowing concealed handguns on campus would not be conducive to the student learning environment.
"Part of the responsibility of the University is to provide a safe learning environment for all the students," Fore says. "And how safe would you feel that there's a possibility that other some other students may have permission to carry a gun into the classroom?"
With safety being the biggest concern, Fore also worries that should guns be allowed on campus, they could be used for other reasons. He said some arguments, both in and out of the classroom, can become heated and result in the unnecessary exposure or use of a weapon.
The student body president also sides with research that suggest the possibility of gun use can increase when combined with alcohol.
"On a college campus, students are getting out of their shell and they're going to experience with alcohol and some are going to experience with drugs. I don't condone that at all, but students do, and the track record shows it. So I don't think that when you add guns to the mix that anything positive can come of that."
Fore has recently made trips to Austin to discuss the item with lawmakers and has also communicated with local law enforcement. He offered a couple of scenarios that would prove risky for both students and officers.
"A police officer walks in and there are two people on the ground, one of them has a gun. You're immediately going to think this guy is the shooter and probably take him out. Maybe he was the one saving... You don't know all the scenarios. I think that puts him [the officer] in a really tough spot."
Fore encourages anyone who'd like to offer their opinion on the matter to contact him and he'd be glad to voice those concerns to lawmakers or other student leaders or schools.
A complete interview with Taylor Fore can be heard during Friday's edition of The Lead, beginning at 10 a.m.
More than half the members of the Texas House have signed on as co-authors of a measure directing universities to allow concealed handguns. The Senate passed a similar bill in 2009 and is expected to do so again. Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who sometimes packs a pistol when he jogs, has said he's in favor of the idea.
Texas has become a prime battleground for the issue because of its gun culture and its size, with 38 public universities and more than 500,000 students. It would become the second state, following Utah, to pass such a broad-based law. Colorado gives colleges the option and several have allowed handguns.
Supporters of the legislation argue that gun violence on campuses, such as the mass shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007 and Northern Illinois in 2008, show that the best defense against a gunman is students who can shoot back.