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Cam's Corner | A Bad Apple At UTEP

Cam's Corner | A Bad Apple At UTEP

On Sept. 1, 2016, Texas law will change to allow those with concealed handgun licenses to legally carry inside buildings on college campuses (the law currently allows for legal concealed carry in most outdoor spaces on campuses across the state). That means that for the next year or so, we’re going to periodically see professors, administrators and students flip out over the upcoming change. Case in point: University of Texas-El Paso journalism professor David Smith-Soto, who told a local television station that the anti-gun pictogram he placed on his door won’t be coming down—even after the law changes.

“I don’t want guns in my classroom,” Smith-Soto told KFOX. “I’m dead-set against it because anybody who can carry a gun legally on campus can snap at any time.”

And they say gun owners are paranoid! Now, this statement by Smith-Soto raises a lot of questions. Is he concerned about law enforcement carrying firearms on campus? After all, he did say that anybody who can carry a gun legally is in danger of snapping at any given moment. For that matter, does this professor really believe that someone who’s “snapped” is going to be dissuaded by a “weapons-free” campus? And does this guy understand that concealed-carry holders are already carrying safely and responsibly throughout the state of Texas? Chances are he interacts with one or two a day already, and he doesn’t even know it. It makes absolutely no sense to think that these concealed-carry holders are suddenly going to turn into lunatics just by stepping over the campus boundary line.

Oddly enough, the journalists covering the journalism professor’s anti-gun hissy fit apparently failed to ask a couple of basic questions. Questions like, “If Professor Smith-Soto says he’ll ban guns from his classroom, how does he plan to enforce this policy?” and “How will Professor Smith-Soto even know that someone is legally carrying a concealed firearm?” never made it into the finished story. I don’t know about you, but when I first heard about the professor’s plan to institute a gun ban in his classroom after campus carry becomes legal, my first thought was, “Good luck enforcing that rule!” 

But this is less about logic, or reason, or rights. Sadly, even for a dismally large number of professors now it appears to be all about feelings. Is it any wonder a growing number of students can’t face exposure to differing ideas and viewpoints without feeling like they’re the victims of micro-aggression and, therefore, need a “safe space” (preferably one with puppies available to cuddle)? 

You don’t need a PhD in linguistics to know that declaring an area to be a “gun-free zone” doesn’t make it so. You don’t need to be a philosophy professor to understand that self-defense is a human right that doesn’t vanish when you set foot onto a college campus. And you don’t need to be a criminal justice major to know that criminals can and do target college students for robbery, sexual assault and even murder. 

You just need to have an open mind and the ability to think critically about these issues—something apparently in short supply in many college classrooms these days.

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