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“Like a Double-edged Sword”: Student Testimonials on Campus Carry in Texas

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 December 2020

MALLA LEHTONEN
Affiliation:
Department of Cultural History, University of Turku. Email: malla.lehtonen@utu.fi.
MILA SEPPÄLÄ
Affiliation:
John Morton Center for North American Studies and the Department of Philosophy, Contemporary History and Political Science, University of Turku.

Abstract

Undergraduates from three Texas universities were given free rein to draw and write about their experiences with the state's Campus Carry law. Through analyzing the personal stories, rationalizations, poems, and drawings the students produced, we offer insight into how they view the law and how it has impacted their sense of security. What emerges is a complex picture, revealing that students hold inconsistent – or even contradictory – beliefs in the dichotomy of being either for or against guns on campus. This essay complements existing research on the Campus Carry debate by uncovering the ambivalence that quantitative approaches alone may not capture.

Type
Forum: Perceiving Security and Insecurity: The Campus Carry Law in Texas
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press and British Association for American Studies 2020

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References

1 Testimonial #3a, ACC, 25 Feb. 2019.

2 The Academy of Finland-funded research project conducted by the John Morton Center for North American Studies, University of Turku, collected a total of 124 testimonials: 58 from UT Austin, 54 from ACC, and 12 from St. Edward's. Participation was voluntary and anonymous, and no additional data – such as age or gender – were collected. These institutions were chosen as research sites to study the impact of the Campus Carry legislation within different educational establishments: UT Austin is the flagship of the Texas state public-university system, while St. Edward's is a small private university, and Austin Community College's student demographics and socioeconomic status differ significantly from the previous two. For more information on the research project and on the Campus Carry law, see Benita Heiskanen, “Perceiving Security and Insecurity: The Campus Carry Law in Texas,” this issue.

3 Hassett, Matthew R., Kim, Bitna, and Chunghyeon, Seo, “Attitudes toward Concealed Carry of Firearms on Campus: A Systematic Review of the Literature,” Journal of School Violence, 19, 1 (2020), 4861CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

4 Tony Cantu, “Holstered Guns Found Unattended at UT-Austin Bathrooms,” Patch, 22 Feb. 2018, at https://patch.com/texas/downtownaustin/holstered-guns-found-unattended-ut-austin-bathrooms, accessed 6 April 2020.

5 Testimonial #12, UT Austin, 26 Feb. 2019.

6 Testimonial #7, UT Austin, 26 Feb. 2019.

7 Strain, Christopher B., “Evil Black Guns: Hate, Instrumentality, and the Neutrality of Firearms,” Journal of Hate Studies, 11, 1 (2013), 5172CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

8 Testimonial #6, UT Austin, 20 Feb. 2019.

9 Shapira, Harel and Simon, Samantha J., “Learning to Need a Gun,” Qualitative Sociology, 41, 1 (2018), 120CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

10 Testimonial #15, UT Austin, 20 Feb. 2019.

11 John Gramlich and Katherine Schaeffer, “7 Facts about Guns in the U.S.,” Pew Research Center, 22 Oct. 2019, at www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/10/22/facts-about-guns-in-united-states, accessed 6 April 2020.

12 Carlson, Jennifer, Citizen-Protectors: The Everyday Politics of Guns in an Age of Decline (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

13 Testimonial #18a, ACC, 25 Feb. 2019.

14 Testimonial #3a, ACC, 25 Feb. 2019.

15 Testimonial #1a, ACC, 25 Feb. 2019.

16 Testimonial #11b, ACC, 25 Feb. 2019.

17 Testimonial #5b, ACC, 25 Feb. 2019.

18 Testimonial #8, UT Austin, 25 Feb. 2019.

19 Testimonial #2b, ACC, 25 Feb. 2019.

20 Testimonial #10, UT Austin, 25 Feb. 2019.

21 Testimonial #6b, ACC, 25 Feb. 2019.

22 Texas Code §411.171, Subchapter H, “License to Carry a Handgun,” https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/GV/htm/GV.411.htm#411.171, accessed 6 April 2020.

23 Some states have laws that allow licensed carriers to openly carry holstered guns in public places. Texas law HB 910 (2015) allows for open carry by LTC holders but excludes it from certain areas like campuses.

24 Testimonial #18, UT Austin, 25 Feb. 2019.

25 Testimonial #15, UT Austin, 25 Feb. 2019.

26 Ibid.

27 Testimonial #11b, ACC, 25 Feb. 2019.

28 Stroebe, Wolfgang, Leander, N. Pontus, and Kruglanski, Arie W., “Is It a Dangerous World Out There? The Motivational Bases of American Gun Ownership,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 43, 8 (2017), 1071–85CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed.

29 On youth anxiety related to school shootings see Nikki Graf, “A Majority of U.S. Teens Fear a Shooting Could Happen at Their School, and Most Parents Share Their Concern,” Pew Research Center, 18 April 2018, at www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/04/18/a-majority-of-u-s-teens-fear-a-shooting-could-happen-at-their-school-and-most-parents-share-their-concern, accessed 8 April 2020.