A new law that goes into effect on Monday will allow certain Texas college students to carry guns on campus — but a legendary Texas police officer thinks that it’s a “terrible” idea.
The Republican-backed law — which passed through the state Legislature last year — allows concealed handgun license holders over 21 to carry their weapons on public college campuses.
The date coincides with the 50th anniversary of the 1966 University of Texas massacre, in which Charles Whitman, a US Marine-trained sniper, shot almost 50 people from the top of the school’s iconic tower, leaving 15 dead.
Ramiro “Ray” Martinez, one of the Austin police officers who helped gun down the shooter, fears that the campus-carry law will lead to only more violence.
“I think it’s terrible,” Martinez told Business Insider. “I believe in the Second Amendment, but I believe there’s a place and a time to have a weapon. And I don’t think the campus is any place to be running around with a pistol.”
Previously, license holders could carry concealed firearms on campus streets, sidewalks, and other outdoor areas. But the new law expands that territory to campus buildings, including classrooms, offices, and dorms.
Faculty can still declare their offices gun-free if they choose, but Martinez argues that professors will face constant danger and could even grow to distrust their students.
“It puts pressure on the professors,” he said. “They don’t know which person is going to be kind of unstable. And if they give them a bad grade, you know, they might be history.”
Interestingly, Martinez got help from armed students on that tragic day in 1966. As he and other officers were climbing up to the tower’s observation deck, some students on the ground attempted to pick off the sniper using hunting rifles.
The constant stream of bullets from below prevented the gunman from leaning over the ledge of the observation deck, restricting him to shooting through drain spouts for much of his 96-minute killing spree.
Martinez credits the students with saving lives.
“I think they did an excellent service because they kept the sniper from having free will up there to shoot at people,” Martinez said. “The rifles they were using were effective and I’m glad they did.”
“But by the same token, you don’t go around with a damn rifle strapped around your shoulder going to school,” he said.
Texas now joins a handful of other states that allow students to carry concealed weapons on campus.