Monday, during a symposium on education reform hosted by The Waco Tribune, Baylor University President Ken Starr again said his Texas campus should remain free of guns.
“Baylor University is a private institution, and by that virtue should be given the right to opt out,” he said on stage, speaking about Texas’s campus carry legislation, recently signed into law by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
“You believe your campus would be made less safe by the presence of guns on it?” asked the host. “I do,” responded Starr. Starr has already made his position on the campus carry law clear by visiting the state capitol to assist efforts to defeat the bill.
Baylor does not allow campus carry, though students have challenged this rule. In 2013, a petition to allow concealed carry, bearing the signatures of more than 600 students, was submitted to state Sen. Brian Birdwell, after the Baylor faculty had submitted a petition to forbid concealed carry, signed with 120 signatures.
In 2014, the Baylor student board passed a motion to allow concealed guns on campus that would have gone to campus administration for consideration, but was vetoed by student-body President Dominic Edwards.
Students Aren’t Mature Enough for Guns
“What exactly is it about the presence of guns on campus in those conditions—of age, licensed, and all that, that makes you feel like this is wrong for Baylor?” asked the host.
Starr responded by offering the opinion of Baylor’s public safety chief, who agrees that firearms should not allowed on the grounds. Starr explained that it boils down to not trusting students’ ability to make wise decisions about guns: “Considering judgement, such as maturity, these are, as you said, 19- to 24-year-olds, and I’m not sure it would be right for 30-year-olds…but they’re developing, trying to discover who they are.”
While Starr is welcome to his opinion, the fact that concealed carry has been proven to save lives cannot be denied, and it’s hard to argue that removing guns from capable and licensed students would do anything to make Baylor safer.
Campus atrocities such as the recent Oregon shooting could have been avoided or their carnage limited if any students—such as Chris Mintz, the hero who charged the shooter—had been armed. Weigh that with the fact that 92 percent of mass shootings since 2009 have taken place in gun-free zones, and Starr’s stance that a campus free of guns would make for a safer school seems rather short-sighted.
Furthermore, while the campus itself is relatively safe, the city that Baylor is in, Waco, has a checkered reputation for crime. CollegeFactual.com rated the Baylor campus B- in safety but gave Waco an F+, with aggravated assault ranking as the greatest-frequency crime committed, at 57.4 percent. Even students who live on campus would do well to own some form of protection in that kind of environment.
In an age where the numbers agree that more guns equal less crime, Baylor’s stance is behind the times. When even some Texas public schools are adopting measures that bring guns into the capable hands of those who can and should wield them, perhaps it’s time for the university to reconsider its stance on the matter and allow its students the power to protect themselves.