Texas A&M students push for right to concealed carry

Earlier this week, the Texas A&M Student Senate passed the Personal Protection Act, an act which would allow students to carry a concealed handgun on campus.

Student Body President Kyle Kelly signed the act last week after it passed in the Student Senate, with 39 supporting, 12 dissenting, and six abstaining votes.

Although Kelly did not support the act in its early stages, he said he has learned a lot about the issue while going through the legislative process.

“To sign or veto this act was the most difficult decision I have made [while] serving as Student Body President,” Kelly told Campus Reform in an interview. “Institutions of higher education should not be an exception to the constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense and public safety.”

According to Kelly, the primarily positive feedback from the student body to the proposition contributed to his support. Kelly confirmed to Campus Reform that the legislation would only apply to those with a Concealed Handgun Licensing (CHL). Those wishing to carry on campus would have to meet “a high standard of eligibility criteria, such as federal qualifications to purchase a handgun, multiple background checks, and psychological health clearance.”

CHL holders also must be at least 21-years-old, making the legislation primarily applicable to upperclassmen or A&M faculty.

Kelly said that currently CHL holders have the right to carry on campus outside university buildings, but not inside .

“In my opinion, it’s up to the student whether or not they want to spend the time and money getting the permit to carry a concealed weapon,” A&M freshman Sydney Anderson told Campus Reform. “I think that if they go through the process of obtaining such certification, they should be able to carry wherever they want.”

To curb any unease, Anderson suggested schools with an open carry policy should offer some form of gun defense classes for those students who feel threatened by the presence of weapons on campus.

A resolution opposing the Personal Protection Act, passed by the Graduate and Professional Student Council at Texas A&M, argued that concealed carry zones have not been proven to be safer.

Christopher Lyons, the president of the Council, stressed the need to feel safe and keep guns off the university’s campus altogether.

“This being an institute of higher learning and not somewhere where you would need to exercise that, we have a police force that can handle those situations,” Lyons told The Battalion, Texas A&M’s student newspaper.

Although it is legal to carry a concealed handgun in all 50 states after meeting certain state requirements, only seven states permit concealed carrying at public institutions. Twenty states have banned the right to carry on college campuses, and 23 have left it up to each individual university to create their own concealed carry policy.

Texas A&M’s policy regarding concealed carrying cannot be changed until the proposition has been approved by university administrators and then state legislators.

“I feel like schools in Texas in general tend to set a precedent followed by schools all over America,” said Anderson. “This, I believe, is due to the fact that Texans are notably more confident and more conservative in their views and are able to act decisively and set a wave of change.”

Though the act’s success thus far is only the first step in a long legislative process, the students at Texas A&M will be watching the state legislature for the opportunity to advocate for concealed carry rights on college campuses.

Also last week, Florida State Representative Greg Steube (R) filed a bill to restore the right of concealed carrying on college campuses in light of the recent shooting at Florida State University.

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