Campus Carry Season
In the wake of the tragic killings of Black men by the police, from Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, to Alva Brazil, one has to really reflect on what laws did these men break by having a gun. As I did my reflection and research, two of the victims were legally carrying, one of the victim was a concealed handgun license (“CHL") holder, and all three of the victims lived in an Open Carry state. So I start to wonder what does open carry mean for people of color? Are we granted the same rights as our white counterparts? How will the police treat us? Many of these questions were answered after reviewing Philando Castile’s incident: a Black man who had a license to carry, informed the police officer that he was a CHL holder and had a gun, and proceeded to give the officer both his driver’s license and CHL when he was shot. Castile followed all the correct steps, which were expressed by Houston’s Chief of Police at an open carry forum, yet he was still killed by a cowardly police officer. I pray that the Castile killing would be an isolated incident, but past events tells me it will not be, so we have to prepare and educate ourselves on how to carry while being black.
Each state in this region is an Open Carry state, either by law or an Official Opinion by the Attorney General (Arkansas), which give us the right to carry a gun without a permit or license. In addition to Open Carry, Texas took it one step further by establishing Campus Carry. Starting August 1, public universities in the State of Texas, will be required to allow concealed handgun license holders to carry their weapons inside majority of the buildings and classrooms. Neither Oklahoma nor Louisiana permit guns on public universities and colleges; and all the universities and colleges in Arkansas opted out of allowing faculty to carry firearms in 2015. With an average of 36 Americans being killed by guns on a daily basis, any type of gun control is necessary in order to decrease that rate. Adding guns to institutions of higher education, a supposed safe haven, is going to increase the violence and take away the peace and comfort.
This new Texas law did not sit well with many including universities and police departments, but the power of the gun lobbyist is a force to be reckoned with, as we all know. However, the gun lobbyists did not stop 3 professors at the University of Texas at Austin from filing suit against the university and state for the law, and seeking for an injunction from a federal judge to block the law before the first day of classes. The Texas Tribune reported that the professors are claiming a First and Second Amendment violation in the suit. Since the professors teach courses that touch sensitive issues such as gay rights and abortion, the possibility of guns in the classroom will stifle class discussion, which violate the First Amendment. Also the professors cited the Second Amendment, by stating “It starts with the proposition that a ‘well-regulated militia’ is necessary to the security of a free state. The Supreme Court has explained that ‘well-regulated’ means ‘imposition of proper discipline and training.’” The officials who are responsible for the “compulsory policy” need to have policies and regulations in place to make sure concealed carrying of handguns on campus is ‘well-regulated’, which they have yet to establish. The professors make great arguments, and we look forward to what will happen to the case since the right to Free Speech of the First Amendment is our most precious right.
So with Open Carry and Campus Carry in place, what should we do now as people of color? Do we run out and get a CHL and firearm? Or do we patiently wait until the law is change? Well to be honest it is up to the individual. If you do decide to carry a weapon, be safe with it, and receive training by taking conceal handgun courses and obtaining a permit for your handgun. Even though you can legally carry it around openly, conceal it in a holster, in your bag or purse. And whenever you are stopped by the police, have your driver’s license and permit out, and hands visible before the officer comes to the window. Inform the police that you are carrying and here is your permit. Use the officer’s name when speaking to them, so they know that you do pay attention to details. And most importantly, never be alone even when you are alone. Call someone and have him or her on the phone during your encounter with the police officer, go to Facebook live to record, or even allow the phone call to go to voicemail. With it being Open Carry and Campus Carry season, it is also Open Hunting season and we are the prey. So be safe and try your best to mitigate the situation with an officer or anyone else you encounter. We’d rather have you alive than a dead hero. #NBLSAgainstBluetality #BlackLivesMatter
If you have any other suggestions or have an opinion about Open Carry, Campus Carry, or dealing with the police, please feel free to leave a comment below.