On August 1, 2016, concealed carry permit holders gained the right to carry firearms on Texas public university campuses. Private universities in the state were given the option to opt-out of this law. Baylor University was one that chose to do so.
This was an indefensible decision by Baylor and one that should be reversed immediately. By denying its students the right to defend themselves, the university is putting them in immediate danger.
Baylor is located in the most dangerous part of one of the most dangerous cities in the country. According to Neighborhood Scout, Waco has a crime index of 8, meaning it is safer than only 8% of American cities. For context, Chicago has the same crime index of 8, and Compton has a crime index of 12, making it statistically safer than Waco, despite the cities’ reputations in pop culture and media as among the most dangerous in the country.
While the university may claim that while Waco is dangerous Baylor is not, the data doesn’t support that conclusion. Violent crime continues to exist on the university’s campus and as students go to and from they should not be forced to disarm. And while Baylor PD is certainly present, students, faculty, and visitors have a right to question their efficacy given their failure to prevent and prosecute those responsible for the university’s rape scandals.
By refusing to allow concealed carry holders to exercise their rights, Baylor’s policies make those on campus less safe. This semester alone, campus-wide alerts have been issued after incidents where a female student was nearly raped walking home from Baylor’s main library, a man believed to be armed fled from Waco police into university housing, and at least one student has been robbed at gunpoint.
When asked about how safe she feels at Baylor, senior Chloe Knox said, “I genuinely do not feel comfortable walking alone in Waco or on Baylor’s campus at night. Although I have a concealed carry permit, I am not allowed to carry a gun to protect myself on campus. For a school that claims to care about its students so much, they are depriving them – female students especially – of their right to protect themselves from harm.”
It is an indisputable fact that permitting concealed carry in a given area makes that area safer. In Texas, concealed carry licensees are 14 times less likely to commit a crime and five times less likely to commit a violent crime. Additionally, in the year following Texas’s passing of laws permitting concealed carry, murder rates in the state fell 50% faster than the national average and rape rates fell 93% faster, and further fell 500% faster in the second year.
The latter is something Baylor University should especially consider before opting out of a law which would give its law-abiding students the right to protect themselves on campus.