By Rebecca Salinas
The Legal Affairs Committee voted 2-1 Tuesday to pass a resolution to oppose legal carry of concealed weapons on district campuses. District 8 trustee Gary Beitzel opposed the measure.
District 6 trustee Gene Sprague and District 3 trustee Anna Bustamante voted to recommend the resolution to the full board of trustees during the regular board meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 19 at Killen Center, 201 W. Sheridan.
The committee passed the resolution in response to the introduction of HB706 and SB182, under consideration in the 83rd Legislature.
Chancellor Bruce Leslie said the resolution will seek legislation to permit each local jurisdiction to make their own decision.
The topic was first discussed at the Jan. 22 regular board meeting, when Leslie said he will research the resolution the board adopted in response to a similar bill in the 82nd Legislature.
The previous motion opposing guns on campus was specific to HB954, so the new resolution was made to oppose gun laws on campus in both present and future legislative sessions.
Beitzel said he is not in favor of the resolution because mass shootings occur in “gun-free zones.”
“I think what we’re doing here, we’re advocating putting our faculty and our students at risk,” he said.
He said if employees and students are not armed, then they will not be able to protect themselves.
Although police work as fast as they can, they still cannot get there in time to save lives, he said.
“These cases, these shooters pick, so called ‘gun-free zones’ that violate the law, and they know that there isn’t going to be anyone there to attack them,” he said.
He said the ratio of square footage of a campus to officers will make it “almost impossible” for first responders to get to the scene of a shooting without someone being shot.
He said if employers and students have weapons on them, they will be able to protect themselves.
District 9 trustee James Rindfuss said he does see Beitzel’s viewpoint because people should be able to protect themselves, but the district does not have the “capacity to offer a safe environment.”
Rindfuss, who is not a member of the legal affairs committee, said places such as courthouses and airports have safe environments because officers conduct screenings upon entrance.
“Unless we can offer a safe environment, then perhaps we should reconsider that issue,” he said.
He said he would agree with allowing guns on campus if there were metal detectors to detect who is carrying a gun.
He said the campus does not have the resources to house a metal detector or extra police officers, unlike courthouses and airports.
Beitzel said one possibility district police Chief Don Adams proposed was keeping a record of who at each campus carries a gun.
“The problem is not concealed carry, people,” Beitzel said. “The problem is people who don’t have concealed carry, that don’t obey the laws, and those are the ones that today could be on our campuses.”
He said a college in northern Texas lets faculty members carry a concealed weapon, but only the administration knows who is carrying.
He said those faculty members even get bonuses after receiving training and carrying a gun.
The superintendent of Harrold Independent School District said the school took the unusual measure because its distance from the nearest law enforcement agency made the likelihood of police arriving in time to prevent injury and death was very small.
Leslie said the board will not decide to be in favor of or against the bill, but rather to ask the Legislature to allow each institution to decide.
Rindfuss said this topic has been “bothering” him a lot because he wants faculty to defend themselves and he wants people to defend themselves.
Sprague said there are a lot of students who attend classes, so their behavior is not identifiable.
“To say that we are not going to have a few people that get out of control … is probably unrealistic,” he said. “I would support individual campuses being able to make their own policy.”
He said each campus should have jurisdiction because a college might find a way to have a peaceful environment where people carry guns.
District 5 trustee Robert Zárate said he could not see himself carrying a gun because it would be a distraction.
“There is such a departure from what a school setting should be,” he said. “I will not favor anything that brings more guns onto campus, other than the police force.”
He said he is not in favor of guns on campus for many reasons, such as a student might find a teacher’s gun.
According to the resolution, “the Board of Trustees of the Alamo Community College District is concerned about the welfare and safety of faculty, students, staff and visitors at all locations and campuses owned and operated by the Alamo Community College District.”
The resolution also states that weapons on campus will have adverse financial, safety and recruitment effects.
Board and committee agendas and minutes can be found at alamo.edu/district/board/agenda.