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Lara Grant Headshot

Keep Colleges Free From Guns

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The recent shooting in Aurora, Colorado has opened the debate on gun control.

I'm from Texas, a state that is overwhelmingly more red than blue and if put simply, pro gun. Last year, our Capitol debated whether to pass a concealed carry law that would allow licensees to possess a handgun on college campuses.

To my relief, though the amendment had supporters, it was ultimately struck down. I know many people who own guns and hunt for sport on the weekends; while I support their right to use firearms in permitted places, I don't believe a college campus should ever be one.

The argument is that it will make the college campuses safer. If the guns are in the right hands that's true, but those are only the hands of qualified police officers. The 21-year-old who is just recently able to legally drink beer should not be responsible for protecting my 50,000 classmates.

On August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman opened fire from the roof of the Main Building at the University of Texas, killing 14 people and wounding 32 others. Many students and civilians had retrieved their guns and attempted to shoot Whitman, but it was a policeman that eventually killed him. It is one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. Fast forward to September 28, 2010 -- I'm awakened to text messages from the university's emergency communications system that a gunman is on campus.

Sophomore Colton Tooley, who was wearing a black suit and mask, had gone to campus brandishing an AK-47. He made his way to the sixth floor of the Perry-CastaƱeda Library where he shot himself and no one else.

It would have been very easy for Tooley to shoot other students, faculty or staff, but that didn't appear to be his intention. Instead, it was a painful, horrific suicide that was made public. However, I fear that if students were allowed to carry guns on campus, the situation could have escalated quickly.

Supporting Campus Carry might give students the impression that the government and university support them taking matters into their own hands, instead of the police. Had students started firing at Tooley, chaos could have ensued, possibly causing more injuries.

It's been claimed that deaths from school shootings could be prevented if students could be armed. However, being trained to shoot a gun doesn't necessarily mean being trained to react calmly in an intense situation like having a gunman on campus.

John Woods, who was a student at Virginia Tech when the gruesome shooting occurred in 2007, is now a graduate student at UT. He has publicly testified against the law that would allow for concealed carry on college campuses. If Woods, someone who lost friends and his girlfriend to the mass murder at Virginia Tech, is opposed to Campus Carry, well, that might just say it all.

When I step foot onto campus, I'm going to school, not a war zone. Let's keep that distinction clear by only having the men in uniform as the gun carriers.