The tragic murder of a freshman ballet student at the University of Texas at Austin has spurred criticism of the school’s campus carry policy.
As ABC7 News reports, Haruka Weiser was killed on the evening of April 3. Through an analysis of the available surveillance footage — which court documents said shows a man pulling out what looked like a “shiny rigid object” while following Weiser across a bridge that led to the creek where her body was discovered — police identified, arrested and charged a 17-year-old runaway named Meechaiel Criner with the crime.
In the wake of Weiser’s murder, the spotlight is once again on campus carry. The Dallas Morning News reports that a new campus carry law will take effect on Aug. 1, and it allows those with a License To Carry (LTC) to carry in most campus buildings. But campus presidents — like UT Austin President Greg Fenves — still get to designate gun-free zones and other rules, including one at UT Austin which says anybody who carries a concealed handgun is not allowed to have a round in the chamber.
“The recent murder of a female undergraduate on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin serves as a tragic reminder that college campuses, though typically safe, do play host to every form of violent crime found throughout the rest of society,” Students for Concealed Carry said in an emailed statement. “No matter how much we want to believe that universities are safe spaces shielded from the dangers of the ‘real world,’ the truth is that the only thing separating most campuses from the rest of the world is a sidewalk. And as we saw at UT-Austin, that sidewalk can be crossed at any time, without warning.”
School administrators such as President Fenves “seek to handicap LTC holders on campus” through their rules, the Students for Concealed Carry said.
“We are continuing to implement the campus carry policies that I announced in February, and I don’t see any changes in those policies,” President Fenves said at a media event, according to the Dallas Morning News. “Our goal is to make the campus safe for everybody.”
While opponents say Weiser wouldn’t have been able to carry a gun on campus because she was below the minimum required age of 21, Students for Concealed Carry told Newsweek that their statement “took care to avoid naming either the victim or the suspected perpetrator and to refrain from saying anything that might be perceived as unsubstantiated speculation as to contributing factors or circumstances under which the outcome might have been different.
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“We do not suggest that the victim should have been carrying a gun or even—given her young age—that she should have had the option to carry a gun. Furthermore, we do not postulate that the outcome of this crime would have been different if the victim had been carrying a gun. Our only objective in referencing this crime is to acknowledge the reality that violent crimes do occur on college campuses.”
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