AUSTIN, TX – For a group ostensibly founded and run by professional researchers, Gun Free UT makes numerous claims that wouldn’t pass peer review. While much of the organization’s literature and talking points are just plain ridiculous—for example, a statement from the Warfield Center for African and African American studies, declaring, “[W]e demand that firearms be banned in all spaces occupied by Black people on our campus”—others are factually and statistically indefensible.
There is no disputing the fact that Texas concealed handgun license (CHL) holders are convicted of violent crimes at approximately 1/5 the rate of the general population. However, Gun Free UT claims, “Conviction rates are unreliable, because CHL holders tend to escape prosecution.” The group’s only source for this claim is a link to an article titled “Why Americans Don’t Treat Fatal Gun Negligence as a Crime”—an article that neither explicitly nor implicitly makes the claim in question. Instead, the article is about America’s reluctance to convict individuals responsible for fatal gun accidents. Nothing in the article suggests that America’s unwillingness to convict for negligent shooting deaths is more applicable to CHL holders than to the general population; therefore, Gun Free UT’s claim is completely without merit.
According to the CDC, there were 1,066 accidental shooting deaths (approximately 59 per year) in Texas between 1996 and 2013. If we use the percentage (0.6%) of criminally negligent homicide convictions involving CHL holders as an estimate of the percentage of fatal gun accidents for which CHL holders were responsible, we can estimate that CHL holders were responsible for six fatal shootings (one every three years) during that period. Given that only about 25% of fatal gun accidents occur outside the home, under non-hunting-related circumstances, we can roughly estimate that two of those fatal gun accidents (one every nine years) involved licensed concealed carry. By comparison, during the nine-year period from 2005 to 2013, lightning killed 19 people in Texas.
As mentioned in SCC’s previous press release, Gun Free UT selectively cites outlier studies and polling data that support the group’s position, while ignoring the vast majority of relevant studies and polling data, which contradict the group’s position. As also mentioned in the previous press release, Gun Free UT makes the dubious claim that allowing CHL holders—individuals who are already allowed to have guns at home and already allowed to have guns in their cars parked on campus—to carry guns in campus buildings will lead to an increase in suicides, even though there hasn’t been a single resulting suicide on any of the 150+ U.S. college campuses that currently allow concealed carry in campus buildings (and have done so for an average of more than five years).
There also hasn’t been a single report of a firearm-related assault committed by a CHL holder on any of those 150+ campuses, yet Gun Free UT argues, “Allowing guns on campus will arm the perpetrators of sexual violence.” The group points to a study by The Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus, when claiming, “[S]exual violence has increased on campuses where Concealed Carry has been implemented.” Given that not one of those sexual assaults was committed by a CHL holder with a handgun, this is a completely specious argument. (Note that SCC has never claimed that campus carry lowers crime rates. SCC’s literature plainly states, “[C]oncealed carry is about personal protection, not public protection.” With regard to crime rates, SCC simply notes, “Virtually every peer-reviewed study on the subject…has concluded that there is no evidence that licensed concealed carry leads to an increase in either violent crime or gun deaths.”)
Unfortunately, this epidemic of absurd claims and baseless arguments now seems to have spread to other campuses in the University of Texas System. The department of political science at UT-Arlington reportedly passed a resolution declaring, “The Department requests that the university administration and the University of Texas System allow for faculty to take non-coercive measures to protect themselves and their students without penalty; measures such as holding office hours electronically or by telephone; declaring offices and classrooms as gun-free zones; or cancelling classes in the event of a need to be home with family members rather than bringing them–particularly children–to campus.”
It’s bad enough that these professors think they deserve to be the only state employees in Texas with the authority to arbitrarily determine the concealed carry policy in their work space. The fact that they also think they need to take steps to keep their children away from licensed concealed carry on campus proves that they are truly out of touch. Are we to assume that these professors also keep their children away from most movie theaters, shopping malls, churches, and restaurants in Texas? Are we to assume that they keep their children away from all public parks, city and state museums, and municipal libraries in Texas?
The professors of Gun Free UT and their likeminded colleagues at UT-Arlington aren’t doing much to assure the parents of Texas college students that their sons and daughters are in capable hands. Antonia Okafor, Southwest regional director for Students for Concealed Carry, summed up the situation, saying, “The professors protesting the Lone Star State’s new campus carry law are simply playing into the stereotype of academics as ‘out-of-touch ivory tower elites.'”