Fabian DeSoto, The Paisano
Last Thursday, students and faculty chanted, “Gun free UTSA” near the rowdy statue at a peaceful protest over the newly instituted campus carry law.
The group, led by Dr. Walter Wilson, an associate professor in the department of political science and geography, featured a multitude of students and faculty carrying signs and marching, and an open mic to let the group and bystanders share their stories and opinions.
This summer, Governor Greg Abbott signed into effect S.B. 11, more commonly known as the “campus carry law.” This bill will allow any concealed handgun license carriers in the state of Texas to bring their concealed weapon on college campuses. It will also allow for the presidents of universities to establish “gun free zones,” but not declare the entire campus gun free. This law will go into effect on Aug.1, 2016 and will apply to all public universities.
Vietnam War veteran and professor of sociology Kevin Bryan, took to the microphone to share his story. He began by stating his support for the second amendment, but said that weapons do not have a place in the classroom, offices or dorms.
“If you have a concealed gun, no matter how well you’re trained, you’re protected from everything but moments of stupid. It has happened and will continue to happen. Don’t let moments of stupidity into the classrooms,” Bryan said.
Custodian Willie Stamps spoke, saying “We are hoping the younger people will realize you don’t need guns on campus you need more books in the classrooms.”
Professors expressed unease toward the possibility of being around unstable students with weapons.
Dr. Aida Ramos of the sociology department said, “My initial reaction is worry. It makes me nervous. We talk about really controversial issues in my classroom, and people get heated and I’m worried that in a moment, a really nice person can suddenly use his or her weapon… and I’m also worried about accidents. I bring my four-year-old to campus and he tends to hug people… and I have to be really worried about that now, because where are we going to put the weapons so they’re safe?”
UTSA alumnus and District 116 State Representative, Trey Martinez Fischer authored the provision granting university presidents authority to designate gun-free zones.
Martinez Fischer came to the rally to show his support for the group. At the rally he said, “I wrote the provisions that would make this a fair process that students, faculty, staff and administration are going to work together…what the law says you are supposed to do, start a dialogue … you need to keep doing this. The idea is that we wrote this law to put pressure on this campus for right or wrong, no matter where you’re at to make this campus safe and responsible. There is no way to keep guns off this campus, but we’ve delayed the implementation so you can have this sort of a collaborative process. It takes these kinds of convening to make sure that that happens.”
Although the law is already passed, the motivation behind a rally like this one is to allow a dialogue and give opposition a forum to discuss.
There was a small, but vocal cadre of supporters at the campus carry demonstration.
Kyle Fernandez, a sophomore studying mechanical engineering was among the supporters of campus carry. He explains, “Criminals aren’t going to care about the law anyway. Gun laws only restrict law-abiding citizens.”
Despite the strong verbal arguments that came from a select few in the crowd, Dr. Wilson made sure that the students who wanted to speak could.
Many students voiced that they are against the law that would allow their peers to carry weapons, and are trying to make themselves heard through rallies such as this.
According to Dr. Wilson, a gun-free UTSA is one that can foster safe learning and discussion.
“This kind of dialogue is what we want, this kind of back and forth is necessary for learning. And it should be able to happen in every classroom— without the threat of a weapon.”
The deadline for the task force to submit its recommendations for gun-free zones to President Romo is Nov. 1, 2015.