I don’t know why I continue to be surprised about things. But legislation was introduced in Texas last week that was stunning.
Texas is like every other state in our Union, trying to make budgetary ends meet. In fact, the only thing the state legislature is required to do when they meet every two years (yep, you heard me right: they only meet every two years!) is to pass a balanced budget. I don’t exactly know what happened to the balanced budget that was passed two years ago, but it’s not balanced anymore. So there’s a lot of work to do.
I guess the lawmakers are like everyone else when it’s time for unpleasant tasks; they get distracted. So while working on axing programs in the state budget, like education, they introduce another piece of legislation to make college and university campuses safer – allowing students and faculty to carry concealed guns!
My immediate thought was, “They can’t be serious!” They are. This is in a state that less than six months ago, a 19-year-old student fatally shot himself in the main library at the University of Texas with an AK-47 assault rifle. This was after he ran through parts of the campus, firing several shots into the air before entering the library and killing himself.
Just since the April 2007 incident where 32 students and faculty were killed and 15 others wounded at Virginia Tech, there have been 24 incidents of campus shootings. Arkansas, Texas, and Virginia lead with three incidents apiece.
College students on various Texas campuses have been asked how they feel about this possible legislation. The students, overwhelmingly, said they would feel less secure knowing their peers might be armed. Aren’t there enough pressures on college campuses already? Do students really need to be worrying about whether a flared temper will result in a gun being pulled? Not to mention that depression is high in this age-group and some mental illnesses begin to manifest in this age group.
I think the students may have more of a grip on the situation than some of the lawmakers. Maybe the students and lawmakers should change places. A reasonable, balanced budget might get passed and lawmakers might be reminded why education is so important.