Campus Concealed Carry, One Year Later
The annual campus crime statistics for the 2016 school year have been released and the data show a promising drop in the number of crimes and arrests per student in the first year of campus concealed carry in Texas.
According to the 2017 University of Houston Fire and Safety Report, which published the statistics for the prior school year, the number of total violations and arrests for the main campus fell almost 10% compared to 2015. Though total crime numbers for both 2015 and 2016 are higher compared to 2013 and 2014 (201 and 184, respectively) when the increased size of the student body is taken into account, 2016 was the second lowest rate of crime over the past four years -- at a rate calculated at 480 per 100,000 students.
For the three years leading up to 2016, the average crime rate is 503.
These numbers also represent a significant break from crime statistics in the off-campus areas near and surrounding the campus where the overall crime numbers have been on a constant increase. In the area surrounding University of Houston, people are much more likely to be victimized by crime. Statistics just for the September to June school year time period in the South Central beat for 2016 reveal a crime rate of 2,954 when calculated for 100,000 people. This represents the latest in a continuing rise in the number of crimes per citizen. In recent years, the beat was safest in 2014 with a rate of 2,385.
Prior research into gun-related incidents on campus in the first year of campus carry revealed that the law’s implementation did not lead to a drastic increase in incidents and those incidents that occurred were due to misunderstandings regarding local statutes. There were only two weapons ordinance violations last school year at UH. This is actually a drop from 6 in 2015 and better than the 2013 − 2015 average of roughly four a year.
In an email regarding the first year of campus concealed-carry, University of Houston Chief of Staff Lt. Bret Collier agreed there has been no sharp increase in gun-related incidents on campus, “This is certainly true for UH. It is also accurate to say that there have been no crimes that we are aware of that were thwarted by armed license holders during that period.”
There were numerous protests against the law across Texas colleges last year as students and professors alike feared campuses descending into chaos with armed sophomores roaming the grounds, brandishing revolvers and threatening students and professors. The only real “casualties” appear to be professors who conveniently listed the new law as one of several reasons for leaving the lone star state or turning down positions offered in a Texas university. The latter is allegedly the case for Nobel-Laureate Thomas Südhof who decided to remain at Stanford University where he has been since 2008.
UT Austin’s Dean of Architecture, Fritz Steiner, resigned in part over the law and took up a new position in the University of Pennsylvania. Steiner said he only considered U Penn’s job proposal because of the law.
Daniel Hammermesh sent a strongly worded letter to the UT blaming the law for his decision not to spend his falls teaching in Austin. The emeritus (that is, retired) professor of economics revealed his low opinion of the average student writing, “With a huge group of students my perception is that the risk that a disgruntled student might bring a gun into the classroom and start shooting at me has been substantially enhanced by the concealed-carry law.”
Fearful of a student’s ability to legally carry a gun onto campus in order to illegally take it into a lecture hall where he might illegally murder him, the professor decided he would rather spend his whole year teaching in London, where he has taught since 2012.
Unfortunately for Hammermesh, his city of refuge has been subjected to four terrorist attacks in 2017 with a combined death toll of 18 and a total of 121 injured. The unarmed citizens of London are also suffering a wave of acid attacks.
Meanwhile, much to the chagrin of liberal professors and student activists, not only have Texas universities failed to devolve into war zones, but the rate of crime is lower than the 3-year average, and the number of weapons violations have actually decreased in the first year.
Higher education indeed. It is a good thing the university police are more realistic in their expectations.
We asked Lt. Collier if the new law increased police tension on campus and he replied, “I can't say what individual officers are feeling, but I wouldn't suspect it is any different since we have been dealing with concealed carry license holders since the mid-90s. Of course some individuals on campus have expressed ongoing concern, but I wouldn't say there is an atmospheric change necessarily.”
With last year’s drop in the per-student crime rate and a complete lack of gun-related incident increases, it looks like there is good reason to keep a level head about guns in the hands of responsible and law-abiding students.
(Note: This report used standard methodology for calculating crime rates per population with the formula: Crime Rate = (Number of Crimes / Population) x 100,000. Unless referenced as raw numbers indicating actual occurrences, the numbers in this report and accompanying charts examine crime rates. For UH population, we relied on fall enrollment numbers. Houston South Central beat population and crime data is available from the City of Houston eGovernment page. Raw crime numbers for Texas universities are published every year before 1 October in Annual Fire and Safety Reports. The 2016 revised and 2017 UH reports (which contain all raw numbers used in this article) are available through the UH Police Department.)