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Sex toys are only loosely related to safety, but at the University of Texas, they have become instruments of protest against state legislation forcing public campuses to accept concealed carry of handguns. The legislation took effect on Aug. 1, the 50th anniversary of UT Austin's clock tower massacre, one of America’s deadliest mass shootings.
The law’s supporters take the stance that concealed carry is a part of their Second Amendment rights. But if gun proponents truly want to maximize safety, measures other than the further proliferation of arms should be sought out. Put bluntly, making college students in the tumultuous years between late adolescence and full-fledged adulthood the first line of defense for Texas' most esteemed public institutions is a questionable means of making the state's campuses safer.
Neurology confirms college students’ dubious decision-making abilities. The frontal lobes, the area of the brain responsible for ultimate decision-making, may not even fully develop until the 30s, and one of the last areas to mature. While this lagged development should not exempt college students from all responsibilities, Texas ought to reconsider the prudence of relying on gun-toting 20-somethings for campus safety.
The environment of undergraduate life itself also gives ample reason to question the wisdom of concealed carry. Alcohol and drugs are undeniable parts of college life, and combined with unfinished brain development these mind-altering substances could easily lead to accidents. Without painting with too broad a brush, these concerns are likely even more significant at a school with a strong Greek Life that is known for having trespassed boundaries. Three Greek Organizations at the Arlington campus will be newly returning from suspension this fall for hazing and other issues. There is valid reason to fear that the influences of alcohol, drugs, and intense social groups combined with guns could easily lead to accidents or purposeful shootings.
The legislation’s most corrosive effects, however, will manifest themselves in the domain of academic freedom. Teachers are not allowed to ask if their students have guns in the classroom, nor are they not allowed to prohibit them, undercutting their control over their learning environment. Professors have been reconsidering how they teach their classes, debating whether they should make them less confrontational or eschew certain topics altogether. College classrooms are often filled with intense and oftentimes adversarial debates, so it is unsurprising that many students are fearful of the presence of guns. This caution will have an especially scarring effect on classes related to gender studies, racism, socioeconomics, and social sciences in general.
If college campuses are to remain the intellectually free and challenging sanctums they are meant to be, guns have no place. Safety should remain he responsibility of the university and the police force, and not the prerogative of 21-year-olds.
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