WTAMU student government addresses Austin about guns on campus

Published: Mar. 5, 2013 at 3:22 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 5, 2013 at 3:43 PM CST
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Canyon, TX - Students at West Texas A&M are in favor of allowing concealed weapons on campus, according to a recent survey - and now their voices will be heard in Austin.

Monday (Mar. 4), WTAMU's student government held a special session to decide their position on two key gun control issues and how they want to present their position to the state legislature.

According to a recent campus-wide survey, fully two-thirds of WT students are in favor of allowing concealed handguns on campus.

"The numbers indicate right now from what we have back that 66 percent of the student body is in favor of allowing it," explains student body president Nick Goettsche, "and 30 percent is not in favor with 4 percent still unsure."

Senate Bill 182 would allow anyone with a concealed handgun license to legally carry a weapon on college campuses.  But what the student government takes issue with is applying a blanket policy across the entire state.  Their stance is that the decision should be made on a local basis, with each school deciding a policy that fits their particular needs.

"We are pretty much at the mercy of the state and whatever they choose to impose or not impose," says Goettsche.  "I favor giving the power to the local schools rather than the state as a whole."

So the final decision of today's session was to formulate a letter expressing both the student body's support of allowing concealed weapons on campus, and the student government's opposition to applying a statewide policy.

And while it's not clear how much influence their letter will have in Austin, student leaders say if enough of us chime in, lawmakers will listen.

"We're the next generation," says Goettsche.  "We're a very big chunk of the population, our age range - I think we do have a very big voice."

Current state law bans handguns from college campuses, but Governor Rick Perry has been highly vocal in his support of relaxing those restrictions.  And just last week, Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe signed legislation allowing concealed weapons on campuses.

If you'd like a little more perspective from the National Conference of State Legislatures or the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, follow the links attached to this story.