Two-year colleges have begun allowing Concealed Handgun License holders to bring handguns on campus.
By Sasha D. Robinson
Geography Adjunct Charles Keith Smith wore a bulletproof vest and Army helmet to teach his summer school class on Aug. 1 as a visual statement of his opposition to the campus carry law as it went into effect in two-year colleges in Texas.
“This is me making a statement that I do not approve of it, and I feel threatened,” Smith said in an interview after his class, GEOG 1301, Physical Geography.
He said he borrowed the vest and helmet from his son who retired from the Army.
“In Texas, there has only been one active shooter on any college campus on Aug. 1, 1966, at 11 a.m.,” Smith said
Smith referred to the University of Texas at Austin tower shooting when Charles Whitman used a rifle to kill 15 people and wound 31.
Smith said that with the campus carry law, he does not know who has guns and worries that the mental state of a student who carries a gun might increase the risk of a shooting.
“I had a fistfight break out in class over seating two years ago,” he said.
“These guys have guns,” he said. He said he cannot imagine what goes on in the thinking of students 21, 22 and 23 years old who may not be mature enough to carry a handgun.
President Trump signed a measure into law in February that allows mentally impaired people to purchase firearms, he said. Smith said he fears he does not know the mental state of someone carrying a handgun in his class.
Trump signed into law on Feb. 28 a measure that revoked an Obama Administration regulation requiring the Social Security Administration to report to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System names of recipients who were unable to work because of mental issues and could not manage their finances. These individuals then could not pass the background check required to buy firearms.
Smith said that if he does not know someone’s mental state and the student receives a bad grade, he does not know how the student will react if they are carrying a weapon.
“What if a student gets an F in my class? It is automatically my fault,” Smith said.
“A shooting can happen with or without the concealed carry, but you have got the person who has the gun, and they do not have to drive home to get the gun or have time to think about it. They have a weapon on the spot. It is intimidating.”
Campus carry refers to legislation passed by the Texas Legislature in 2015 that became effective at two-year institutions of higher education Aug. 1.
The law allows individuals with a concealed handgun license to carry a concealed handgun on college premises.
To obtain a license, a person must be 21 years of age, meet state and federal qualifications to own a handgun and receive Concealed Handgun License training from an instructor certified by the Texas Department of Public Safety, according to www.dps.texas.gov.
The state will no longer require continuing education for renewal.
Guns will be prohibited at Scobee Planetarium; Candler Physical Education Center; the empowerment center; the early childhood studies building; the nursing and allied health complex; the testing and assessment center in Rooms 103, 112 and 113 of Fletcher Administration Center; Rooms 236C and 242 of Nail Technical Center; Rooms 339 and 354 of Chance Academic Center; and the science annex in Room 104 and Rooms 010C, 011A and 115 and Room 213 of the chemistry and geology building.
Smith said some students were not surprised about him wearing the vest because he told them he was going to wear it in protest.
He said some of his other students were not aware of the campus carry law.
Smith said he would wear the vest and helmet for only a couple of days.
Go to alamo.edu/district/CampusCarry for additional information.