Republicans of the Texas state Senate have approved a measure allowing concealed weapons to be carried on college campuses.
If passed, the measure would give student handgun license holders over the age of 21 a chance to defend themselves in case of a school threat. Opponents worry that the handguns could lead to more campus violence and suicide.
What does this mean for California and College of the Canyons?
California law forbids possession of handguns on school grounds. The zero tolerance policy and California Legislature Education Code includes the requirement to refer a student with a firearm to law enforcement.
If not the students, perhaps only campus security could carry handguns. COC has a strong safety team of trained men and women who are capable of dealing with a variety of issues, but they are only permitted to carry non-lethal weapons such as tasers and pepper spray.
When asked about the efficiency of the security guards on campus, Tammy Castor, Director of District Safety at COC, was confident about her team’s qualifications. “We have an incident command team here, broken down into ten quadrants, including floor wardens and chiefs who are familiar with the school and are post-certified, trained law enforcement officials.”
Even though the guards are trained, how necessary is it for them to carry weapons? Referring back to 2007, the infamous Virgina Tech shooting left 33 students dead after one student went on a shooting rampage. The campus security was not armed and remained defenseless as they waited for nearby police to arrive.
Michelle Smith, a current COC student and employed law enforcement official deems it necessary that campus security be armed. “I think they should be [armed] at school, so that if something like Virginia Tech happens someone can respond immediately before it gets out of hand. I don’t see why they can’t be armed with everything a normal police officer has.”
Campus security also offers a ‘lockdown’ procedures video, one of which many students are not familiar with. This video is supposed to be viewed by the students and faculty in their classes in effort to prepare them for an unexpected emergency or threat. The lockdown video can inform students to an extent, however, it cannot fully justify a possible shooting that leaves many students dead or injured. This is why it is crucial for security to be armed and ready.
Are the COC safety procedures enough and can we assume students will assist law enforcement by reporting prospective crime? Any assumption that all people abide by the law avoids the real issue that weaponless campus security does not guarantee safety.
It is completely necessary for college campuses to allow the security team to carry unseen weapons in order to prevent such incidents, similar to VA Tech. They would be in a position to act quickly in the event of a violent threat, while the school awaits the nearby police response.