Virginia Tech graduate sees danger in Texas college concealed weapon bill
12:00 AM CST on Tuesday, February 24, 2009
By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News
AUSTIN – John Woods' heart still jumps when he hears hammering or shouting outside his window, even two years after his girlfriend was shot and killed in the Virginia Tech massacre. The routine emergency sirens at the University of Texas, where he's now a molecular biology graduate student, tie his stomach in knots.
ERICH SCHLEGEL/Special Contributor
John Woods, a University of Texas graduate student, lost his girlfriend in the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings.Now, Texas lawmakers are proposing the worst thing he could possibly imagine: allowing people with concealed handgun permits to carry weapons on college campuses.
He and others say that bringing more weapons on campus can only increase the chances of a deadly incident because of the possibility of accidents or sudden meltdowns.
"Crime on campus is, statistically, incredibly low. Virginia Tech got very, very unlucky," said Woods, who graduated from Virginia Tech shortly after the shootings and has become UT's de facto gun control spokesman. "If students have guns on campus, that can only create more danger."
Gun-rights advocates took a much different lesson from the Virginia Tech case and a similar massacre at Northern Illinois University last year, arguing that the measure, expected to be introduced in the Legislature this week, will give students and professors the chance to protect themselves. Right now, Texas universities are gun-free zones, they say, leaving them virtually defenseless until campus police can respond.
"I don't want to wake up and read in the paper that Texas students were mowed down like sitting ducks on campus because they weren't allowed to defend themselves," said Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, who is filing the "campus carry" bill this week. "It's a matter of personal safety and self defense."
Currently, 11 U.S. universities allow concealed weapons on campus, nine of them public. Last year, 17 states considered campus carry legislation, but none enacted them.
In Texas, gun-rights lawmakers have agreed to throw all their Second Amendment capital behind the campus carry bill, which would apply to all colleges in the state. At public universities, students are facing off in heated campus meetings and competing newspaper columns.