The Greek king Pyrrhus of Epirus, in 280 BC, sought to stop the Romans from taking over his lands. Though he won two major victories against the far numerically superior Romans, each victory brought with it irreplaceable loss. Thus the invention of the term “Pyrrhic Victory”.
In 2015, the term still applies. Only, in this case, it follows the news that Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign into law a bill that will authorize concealed carry on Texas campuses.
On the surface, this appears to be a great win for concealed carriers looking to protect their Second Amendment rights. But just below that surface, a murkier truth waits in hiding. According to the bill’s provisions, Texas university and college presidents may authorize “Gun Free Zones” on their campuses so long as the entire campus is not so impeded.
Where Texas Concealed Carry (SB-11) Gets Hemmed Up
According to Texas Senate Bill 11 (SB-11), concealed carriers can not be prohibited from storing their concealed carry firearms in their personal vehicles for Texan public universities and colleges. They also can’t be prohibited from carrying those firearms on or about their person while they are on campus. But what about students staying in dormitories?
(d) An institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education in this state may establish rules, regulations, or other provisions concerning the storage of handguns in dormitories or other residential facilities that are owned or leased and operated by the institution and located on the campus of the institution.
More importantly, what about private institutions?
(e) A private or independent institution of higher education in this state, after consulting with students, staff, and faculty of the institution, may establish rules, regulations, or other provisions prohibiting license holders from carrying handguns on premises that are owned or leased and operated by the institution and located on the campus of the institution.
More importantly, the bill allows for presidents of public colleges and universities to establish arbitrary (and largely imaginary) “gun free zones” so long as the campus – itself – is not designated one.
Don’t see the conflict?
Put yourself in a college employee’s shoes. Pretend you’re adjunct faculty – not classified as faculty and not quite an employee. The president of the university classifies the faculty break room as a “gun free zone”. Maybe your lecture hall is designated a “gun free zone”.
How are you expected to transport your firearm safely and in a concealed manner through zones that interrupt your ability to teach?
What’s next? Designating a bathroom a “gun free zone”?
The Achilles’ Heel of this seemingly victorious concealed carry on campus bill lies in the details. Presidents that are committed – for whatever reason – to making a concealed carrier’s participation on campus difficult are free to do so.
More importantly, teaching hospitals – hospitals located on the campus of a university – are allowed to extend their “gun free zone” up to 1,000 feet.
Once this bill is expected to go into effect in September of 2015, it will inevitably force students, faculty, and university employees to either unwittingly break the rules or force them into conspicuous behavior to ensure they remain legal concealed carriers on campus.
As states such as Mississippi and Oregon begin to loosen restrictions on concealed carry, it’s important to remain aware of the specific wording of the bills being passed. Just like in Texas, concealed carriers could wind up with a lot more hassle than they were bargaining for.
What are your opinions of “gun free zones”? Tell us in the comments section below.