It is important to note that although the Second Amendment is a critical part of the United States Constitution, it should not infringe or supersede the First Amendment or any other part of the law. Considering the fact that campuses are places where academic freedom and freedom of speech are practiced at their core, enabling the carry of guns poses a threat to the First Amendment. Therefore, campuses should not allow the carrying of guns in Texas because it increases the risk and escalation of violence among students, diminishes the First Amendment, and puts academic educators at risk.
Firstly, one should be aware that any form of violence is a result of the confrontation, which escalated to a violent form. Guns are ultimate killing instruments designed to effectively end one’s life at a range. Introducing them into an environment where confrontations can take place due to the exchange of opinions or thoughts and a competitive environment can result in easy escalation. One might argue that allowing guns on campus protects students from mass shooters and other violent individuals because a gun owner can respond more effectively. However, studies show that the opposite is true because guns on campus lead to “more gun homicides and suicides, more nonfatal shootings, and more threats with a firearm on college campuses” (Everytown para. 7). The reaction is more visceral rather than logical due to a select number of unfortunate incidents. It is reported that “among all violent crimes against college students from 1995 through 2002, 93 percent of incidents took place off-campus” (Everytown para. 8). In other words, the campuses without guns are safe and do not require a risky move-in the form of allowing guns to improve an already acceptable figure.
Secondly, although the Second Amendment should be respected and honored, it does not mean that its applicability extends with no boundaries because doing so diminishes other Constitutional rights. According to the Supreme Court, campus gun laws are not a matter of the Second Amendment, as many gun lobbyists claim, but rather the preservation of validity of laws intended to forbid firearms in sensitive places (Everytown para. 4). It should be noted that “the presence of guns on campus creates an environment hostile to teaching, research, and learning and thus “chills” academic freedom and free speech under the First Amendment” (Somers and Phelps 2). Campuses are designed to invoke discussions and debates, which is an essential part of the educational process.
Students need to be able to express themselves freely and openly to tackle, identify, and address the major issues, and most students do not want guns hindering them from these opportunities. It is stated that “the results of the comprehensive review of the available 17 empirical studies on campus carry attitudes provided evidence that individuals within the campus community are primarily against the policy” (Hassett et al. 57). However, it is easy to see how one can be more restrained or reluctant in expressing his or her voice when there is a risk to his or her life at all times if the healthy debate turns into an active confrontation. The escalation point of such an incident would end with a more manageable fistfight with far less severe health consequences than a gun shooting.
Thirdly, allowing the carrying of guns on campus puts academic educators at risk. One might argue that even if a student is afraid to voice his or her opinion on campus, it is possible to do it online through forums. The statement is problematic due to the fact that the availability of alternatives does not make the campus gun laws more justifiable. In addition, the presence of firearms on campus threatens the professors and other members of the faculty. It is found that LGBT, racial or ethnic minorities, female faculty members, and faculty members with disabilities become even more fearful for their lives and ability to work under such laws (Somers and Phelps 1). The chilling effect is even worse against the most vulnerable groups, which include faculty members from minority backgrounds. Since educators are unable to express their own thoughts in a creative and sometimes controversial manner, the gun-permitting laws make professors more reluctant to invoke active debates and discussions. Some might state that Texas universities did not see a spike in gun violence or intimidation (Ellis para. 5). However, the effect might be gradual and cumulative with the long-lasting diminishment of academic freedom on campus.
Ellis, Lindsay. “Austin Bars Provide Gun-Free Haven for UT Grad Students and Platform for Protest.” Evernote, 2017.
Everytown. “The Danger of Guns on Campus.” Everytown Research & Policy, 2020.
Hassett, Matthew R., et al. “Attitudes toward Concealed Carry of Firearms on Campus: A Systematic Review of the Literature.” Journal of School Violence, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 48-61. doi.org/10.1080/15388220.2019.1703717
Somers, Patricia, and Nicholas Phelps. “Not Chilly Enough? Texas Campus Carry and Academic Freedom.” Journal of Academic Freedom, vol. 9, 2018, pp. 1-15.