By Jenna Gibson
Students purchasing back-to-school supplies for fall semester at Amarillo College may be shopping for more than pens and notebook paper. This year, a handgun might be on some shopping lists. The Texas law allowing licensed gun owners to carry weapons on community college campuses went into effect August 1.
Although licensed gun holders may carry weapons openly when not on college or university campuses, this new law requires that weapons be concealed at all times. The statute went into effect last August at universities, but state legislators gave community colleges an extra year to develop their policies.
Scott Acker, AC police chief, said he does not anticipate any problems, noting that campus carry is a state law and will be enforced the same as any other criminal state law.
Shauntelle Campbell, an education major said she has concerns about allowing guns on campus. “I just don’t think school will be a safe place for people to be walking around the campus carrying guns,” she said.
Another student, David Lovejoy, a mass media major, weighed in, saying, “I find it really kind of ironic that it’s not OK to smoke a cigarette at Amarillo College but it’s OK to carry a loaded firearm. As a veteran, as someone who has used firearms, I’d rather see an upset student with a Marlboro than with a nine millimeter.”
Other students said they are looking forward to being able to carry weapons on campus. “I think it’s a good decision because it will keep good people safe,” Noah Kendall, a pre-engineering major, said.
Kendall does not expect to see any significant difference on campus. “I don’t think it will have any visual or obvious effect because this is a pretty peaceful campus,” Kendall said.
Crystal Davis, a photography major, owns a gun and has a concealed carry license. Davis has yet to decide on whether or not she will carry on campus.
“I think campus carry will have a positive and negative effect on AC campuses. Positive because people will feel safer because they have a way to protect themselves if a situation arises. At the same time I think people are going to be more wary because they don’t know who has a gun on campus and who doesn’t or their motive for having it,” Davis said.
Carrying weapons will be prohibited at five Amarillo College buildings with signs posted. Acker pointed out that these signs are in compliance with state law.
The prohibited areas are the Hagy Center for Young Children on the Medi Park Campus, the Child Development Lab on West Campus, the Gymnastics/Dance Facility on West Campus, the Amarillo Museum of Arts and Carter Fitness Center.