SGA has a task force studying implementation of the law in fall 2017.
By Wally Perez
There is a time and place for guns, but not on a college campus, said state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, to about 50 people Nov. 3 at the Methodist Student Center’s Hot Potato luncheon.
“I’m not a person who believes there is no room for guns in our society,” Martinez Fischer said. “I just think there needs to be policies in place to ensure the safety of campuses.”
Martinez Fischer was referring to State Bill 11, the new campus-carry law “relating to the carrying of handguns on the campuses of and certain other locations associated with institutions of higher education.”
The new campus-carry law will affect universities in fall 2016 and community colleges beginning fall 2017, allowing concealed handgun license holders to legally carry handguns on campuses of public universities and colleges in Texas.
Martinez Fischer helped craft the final version of the bill after voting against both the original and rewritten version.
“There are two big arguments that I hear. ‘We don’t want guns period, and if we’re going to have them, we don’t want them in classrooms,’” Martinez Fischer said.
With the final version of the law in place, he said he hopes college presidents will find ways to change the policies based on the security needs of their campuses.
Presidents know their unique demographics and issues; they are best suited to come up with policies for their campus, he said.
Every college is different, and every campus has unique security considerations, he said.
“Some colleges have high school students who attend dual credit programs, some have day cares,” Martinez Fischer said. “We need to account for this, since there are current laws in place that prevent firearms in public schools.”
The University of Texas at San Antonio has a national ranking cybersecurity program that could be threatened by the campus-carry law, he said.
“UTSA has a cybersecurity mission and they deal with global politics,” Martinez Fischer said.
“The risk of someone easily targeting them with firearms is a realistic possibility.”
With this in mind, he urges faculty, staff and students to speak out on this issue and find ways to ensure a safe environment for their campuses when the law takes effect. He said the law impacts outsiders as well.
“Visitors may not want to come to campuses due to the law. They may think it’s too dangerous,” Martinez Fischer said.
Social work sophomore Bernard Lavallee voiced his opinion on the lack of student involvement at this college.
“We have the option to speak up and protest,” Lavallee said.
“If we don’t want this here, we need to make ourselves be heard. If you can’t get people together for something like this ,how do you expect to make a difference?”
Harley Williams, psychology sophomore and Student Government Association president, said a task force has been set up with other colleges in the city known as the San Antonio Higher Education Representative Assembly.
“We meet once a month and get to see what other universities are doing, so we get to model after them and get ideas,” Williams said.
Martinez Fischer called for more participation in government.
“Ultimately, you are the ones who decide whether we’re doing a good job or not, you vote for us, you put us in office,” Martinez Fischer said.
“Stay engaged. You are not a spectator; you are the impact.”
The SGA meets noon-1 p.m. on the first three Mondays of every month in the craft room of Loftin Student Center.
Students are encouraged to stop by and voice their opinions and ideas about the campus-carry law at this college.
The next Hot Potato, “How to Choose Your Major 101,” is at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday at the center.
For more information, call 210-733-1441 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.