by Nick Lawton
MIDLAND - A Texas House bill that would require colleges and universities to allow faculty, personnel and students over the age of 21 to carry concealed handguns on campus without punishment is causing a stir at Midland College.
The possibility of so many more people on campus packing heat has some MC students concerned.
"I can honestly say I don't feel comfortable knowing other students would be walking around with a handgun in their purse or on their side or whatever," Midland College Freshman, Carissa Tarnowski, said.
And they're not the only ones.
If a lone gunman should appear at MC, the critical incident response procedure is to shut down all buildings and alert all students to the danger.
Now that plan has to be changed if that gunman isn't alone on campus.
"It's really going to change things at Midland College," Midland College Dean of Public Information, Rebecca Bell, said. "We are really going to need to step up our intervention methods if handguns are allowed on campus."
The critical incident response team at Midland College is trained to handle natural disasters and lone gunmen on campus.
They'll have an even bigger problem if that House bill passes. All of a sudden, they're dealing with who knows how many concealed firearms.
The Chief of Police at Midland College said his squad's been working on a plan since the issue was discussed by state legislators back in 2009, and that the toughest challenge, if this House bill passes, is determining who's trying to hurt students with their gun and who's drawn theirs to protect them.
"We come up as first responders, we don't know who's the bad person," Chief Martin Garcia with the MC Police Department, said. "Two individuals shooting at each other, who's the bad person? Just don't know how that's gonna play out."
If the bill becomes law, officials said the key is student safety.
They're working on a text message alert system for all students' phones, and the campus police are working on a full communication network to get buildings shut down and everyone safe should the unthinkable happen.
"We're gonna have to start a real campus-wide communication system with the instructors, groundskeepers, staff members. It's all about communicating and how to communicate from one building to another, from one person to another," Garcia said.
MC officials said the College will still be kept safe.
If the bill becomes law, they'll have a safety plan cemented by the coming fall semester.