UTEP Officials plan for concealed carry

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UTEP Officials plan for concealed carry

On Aug.1, UTEP will officially be a concealed carry campus.

On Aug.1, UTEP will officially be a concealed carry campus.

File Photo/ UTEP Prospector

On Aug.1, UTEP will officially be a concealed carry campus.

File Photo/ UTEP Prospector

File Photo/ UTEP Prospector

On Aug.1, UTEP will officially be a concealed carry campus.

Javier Cortez, Staff Reporter

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The bill was approved, the legislation was passed and now the plan that facilitates UTEP’s response to concealed carry is set in place. On Aug. 1, UTEP will officially be a concealed carry campus, where students and faculty alike may bring concealed guns on campus.

In April, UTEP President Diana Natalicio approved the concealed carry plan for UTEP and sent it to UT System Chancellor William McRaven for approval.

Now, all that is left is the implementation phase, which includes posting signage around campus as well as bringing awareness for the university community on what they can expect on Aug. 1.

According to Catie McCorry-Andalis, dean of students, most of the new information regarding concealed campus carry will be found in the FAQ section on the campus carry website. The website will also include exclusionary zones, where concealed guns are not permitted.

Although the process of passing Senate Bill 11 was a relatively smooth, the campus support for the bill was met with a decent amount of backlash. Most notably, retired communication professor, David Smith-Soto led the way with critical editorial pieces regarding guns on campus.

UTEP students also got involved with an anti-campus carry rally at Leech Groove back in October 2015. With respect to the opposition levied by the student population, McCorry-Andalis made reference to the small amount of people who actually have a concealed handgun license.

“When you look at the facts and figures related to those who have a concealed handgun license, you’re talking about roughly 2.7 percent of the population in Texas,” McCorry-Andalis said. “When you start breaking that down, looking at El Paso County, you’re talking about less than half of one percent of the population.”

For McCorry-Andalis, one of the struggles in the process of adopting new legislation has been in the details. Some students have misinterpreted the new law for concealed carry on college campuses as an extension of open carry.

“What’s most important to us is, regardless of this legislation, students, faculty and visitors need to be mindful of their personal safety and seek out resources or help when needed,” she said. “Regardless of legislation, if someone sees a gun on campus at any time, they need to be calling our university police department.”

Nevertheless, some of the student population does not feel safe with the idea of some of their peers carrying guns on campus, no matter how insignificant the percentage.

“It’s a bad idea that I don’t like,” said Omar Quiñonez, freshman liberal arts major. “I feel less safe because people get angry for anything. If someone has a gun they can commit something bad, so I think we will be less safe.”

While some students are wholeheartedly against campus carry, other students such as David Cardenas, sophomore criminal justice major, are undecided.

“It’s kind of scary, but at the same time you do feel a little bit safer,” Cardenas said. “Overall, I came to the conclusion that I’m kind of against it. It’s not because I don’t want to protect myself or I don’t want others to protect themselves, it’s just (caution) for everyone (who doesn’t have a gun).”

McCorry-Andalis also stressed the importance of supporting the law, while being empathetic to the concerns that some students might have with campus carry.

“On the other end, concealed handgun owners are deemed safe citizens no matter where they are. We have to be really mindful of that,” McCorry-Andalis said. “I’m not saying that folks’ concerns or what they may think about the law (are not important), but as a public institution we have to support the legislation that has been passed.”

Whether there is or isn’t strife within the student population, McCorry-Andalis believes that come Aug. 1, UTEP will have a successful transition to a concealed carry campus.

“We have to recognize that there is going to be some anxiety and ambiguity about what this may mean, but I am also very confident that we are going to get through it,” McCorry-Andalis said. “One of the greatest assets about UTEP is that we are a community that supports one another even if there are differences of opinion between one another.”

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]

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