The state's controversial "campus carry" law took effect one year ago. The law allows students with concealed handgun licenses, and who are 21 years old, to carry a firearm in certain places on public university campuses.
Opponents of the law were concerned about the potential risks: quick-tempered students with access to firearms, self-censorship in classroom discussions and potential catastrophes involving a “good guy with a gun.” Advocates said the allowing students to carry guns would provide protection in case of campus violence.
Professor Aaron Bartula, coordinator for the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of North Texas at Dallas, says there has been no significant increase in gun crimes on campuses since “campus carry” became law.
“We’ve seen a lot of increased fear of victimization of crime,” Bartula says. “However, if we actually look at the numbers, we don’t really see much of a change at all.”
As of Tuesday, the “campus carry” law extends to community colleges across the state. Bartula says the fact that community colleges are typically commuter schools raises a different set of issues.
“[Community colleges] tend to be high-volume,” Bartula says. “Because [they are] commuter [schools], people come and go all the time. So it’s really hard for security on community college campuses to really identify who’s there at what time, what the flows are going to be. Whereas at four-year institutions, it’s a little more stable, with the amount of people on campus.”
Bartula says some of the fears professors expressed before the passage of “campus carry” continue. He says he believes some faculty members have changed the kinds of discussions held in class, based on fear, but that, overall, little has changed.
“I really haven't seen that much change at our institution,” he says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.