Texas prof worries campus carry endangers free speech

  • Prof. Patrick Timmons is concerned that the existence of handguns at Texas public universities will stifle classroom discussion.

A professor recently argued that it’s not possible to discuss difficult subjects in college classrooms if there’s a possibility a peer or professor is armed.

Patrick Timmons, a History professor at El Paso Community College, wrote a recent article in Counter Punch wherein he expounded upon the history of gun-free campuses in Texas in relation to conservatives’ “racist” vision of the social and political order in the 1960s.

"[How can you] discuss difficult subjects...if you don’t even know if your classmates, or professor, are armed?"   

According to Timmons, legal prohibition of guns on campus came about as liberals and conservatives agreed that educational institutions needed to be protected from the disruption caused by student radicals.

He then contrasts this point with the more recent debate over concealed carry at the University of Texas, saying that “liberals and conservatives no longer agree that a gun-free campus is actually a campus that is both safe and free.”

[RELATED: UT president agrees to campus carry, promises to look for loopholes]

“How is it possible to discuss difficult subjects with any candor if you don’t even know if your classmates, or professor, are armed?” he adds.

On August 1, all public four-year colleges and universities in Texas will permit students with a concealed handgun license (CHL) to carry weapons in college and university buildings.

[RELATED: College president: campus carry would ‘disrupt our academic mission]

Timmons, though, thinks that campus carry laws are a “radical experiment in privatizing self-protection in the education space of a public university.”

Despite Timmons’ claims, many peer-reviewed studies on the subject have suggested that there is no evidence to support the claim that an increase in CHL holders results in more crime or gun related death.

For example, The Texas Department of Public Safety released a study in May 1999 that demonstrated the safety of permit holders in Texas, suggesting that permit holders are among the safest and most responsible citizens in the state.

Indeed, permit holders accounted for only 0.246 percent of all aggravated assault crimes that involved a deadly weapon, which is only four of 1,629 convictions.

At the time, Texas permit holders had a zero percent rate of murder convictions.

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Marlo Safi
Marlo Safi | Pennsylvania Campus Correspondent

Marlo Safi is a Pennsylvania Campus Correspondent, and reports liberal bias and abuse on campus for Campus Reform. She attends the University of Pittsburgh, where she studies Pre-Law, Psychology and Political Science and serves as a columnist for her student newspaper, The Pitt News.

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