Community members comment on gun control

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As the debates on gun control continue, Texans and students, faculty and staff at St. Edward’s University are reexamining their own views on gun control.

“Gun owners need to be responsible,” said Sergeant Richard Guajardo, an instructor in the School of Behavior and Social Sciences.

Guajardo has also been a police officer for 16 years. 

Guajardo believes the point of gun control legislation should be to protect citizens, particularly children.

“Gun owners need to … either get rid of their weapons  or lock their weapons and ammunition away from any children or family members that may have mental health issues,” Guajardo said.

President Barack Obama’s gun proposal package was presented to Congress last week. The plan includes actions to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, implement universal background checks and finance mental health programs for the youth. 

“I do think background checks should be mandatory,” Guajardo said.

Isaac Hernandez, a senior majoring in forensic science, has another perspective on the proposal.

“I fail to see a reason why making me wait three months after a background check and a psych evaluation is such a huge impediment to my ability to exercise my Second Amendment right,” Hernandez said.

However, some Americans do not agree with the proposed plan.

Many have voiced their opinions to the public and the government. More than 600 people rallied against stricter gun laws at the Texas State Capitol over the weekend. 

Thousands more rallied nationwide.

Despite the rallies, the problem remains.

Last week, a fight at a Houston-area community college led to gunfire. The Austin American-Statesman reported that both of the people involved in the shooting were injured and hospitalized. No one was killed.  

Addressing the issue of guns in school, the Texas Legislature may debate a bill that would allow guns on college campuses. The proposed bill have left some with mixed emotions.

“I am in favor of stricter gun laws,” said Beth Eakman, a professor of English Writing and Rhetoric.

Several years ago, Eakman was assaulted by a student who was thought to have a problem with recreational drugs and mental illness. The assault did not take place on campus.

“It was absolutely terrifying,” Eakman said. “I can remember being overcome with gratitude that he hadn’t had a gun at that moment.”

Eakman, who grew up in a hunting and fishing family, said she cannot imagine any good reason for anyone owning a military-style assault weapon. 

Senior communications major Zach Chad said he feels safe on campus. He does not feel the need to carry a gun even after receiving his concealed handgun license.

“There is no need for students to bring a gun to school,” Chad said. “I wouldn’t even if I could. I feel the need to get my CHL for personal protection at home.”

University Police Department’s Chief Rudolph Rendon, said that St. Edward’s is a gun-free zone. 

“You go to jail,” said Rendon about the consequences of bearing a firearm on campus.

“Possession of firearms is prohibited while on campus and at all campus related activities,” according to article two, section three of the student handbook. This includes concealment in student housing and vehicles parked on campus property.

Rendon said that the only people who are allowed to carry a gun on campus are Texas Peace Officers. Anyone who visits St. Edward’s dressed in civilian clothing and carrying a gun will be questioned, according to Rendon.

Police Captain Dan Beck has been with St. Edward’s for 25 years and said he has found less than six guns in campus housing or in vehicles. 

Rendon advises students to visit the Federal Emergency Management website for information on how to prepare for an active shooter. The website can be accessed through the UPD’s website at think.stedwards.edu/police.

Currently, UPD is not administering any active shooter or firearms awareness projects.

Those affected by the recent shootings can visit with Campus Ministry in Mang House and the Health and Counseling Center.