UPD chief skeptical of campus carry

University officials are skeptical of a bill pushing through the Texas Legislature that would allow concealed handguns on college campuses. One of them is Kevin Morris, Sam Houston State University police chief.

Morris said he does not know whether allowing concealed handgun carriers to carry on campus would enhance safety.

“I’m a gun supporter and I think everybody should be able to have a gun, but when it comes to campus carry, I freak out a bit,” Morris said.

Senate Bill 11, co-authored by State Senator Charles Schwertner, R – Georgetown, would allow persons with a concealed handgun license (CHL) to carry on college campuses in the state of Texas, including SHSU. The bill passed the Senate State Affairs Committee last Thursday and could soon be considered by the full Senate.


Morris said UPD would have to undergo extra training on top of knowing how to handle an active shooter.

UPD underwent Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) on campus in May 2013. The program let officers experience a simulated active shooter situation in the Smith-Hutson Building where officer were able to react in real-time. This training, Morris said, is more extensive than that which a CHL holder undergoes.

“As a CHL person or individual, [your training is] just a static line basically where you stand, you shoot, you hit the paper and you try and put a hole in there,” Morris said. “So we do the same thing, but we put time limits and we turn boards and do some ‘shoot [or] don’t shoot’ exercise scenarios.”

Morris said while a CHL holder could confront a threat in a classroom, there are problems that could arise from the lack of active shooter training.

“All of a sudden you have that active shooter situation happening in the classroom,” Morris said. “It’s not just static line where you’re shooting at a target. Now you have the potential of 20, 30 bodies maybe more if you’re in a larger setting, 50 if you’re in an auditorium-style class, 100. So now you have 100 people around you. It’s complete chaos. You have people running, diving, and then whoever maybe decides that they’re going to stop it, they’re having to do that in a stressful situation.

“So my question is, does it enhance safety or are you more likely to be impacted by the person with the CHL who’s trying to defend or stop the situation?”


Morris said when UPD responds to the threat of an active shooter, the interaction between officers and a CHL holder who neutralized the shooter could turn fatal due to confusion. When UPD underwent ALERRT in 2013, Morris said the moment officers saw a gun in the suspect’s hand, every officer fired their weapon on the shooter.

The momentum and gravity of a CHL holder engaging with an active shooter might make the would-be lawful CHL holder dazed and confused and unable to interact with the first responders. Morris said this is how a CHL holder trying to do the right thing could wind up on the receiving end of a UPD bullet.

“The adrenaline really gets kind of pumped up, because you want to get it right, and you want to do it right,” Morris said. “At the same time, you don’t want to get hurt. So as we’re coming down the hallway, you see a couple victims and you start to ask questions, but all of a sudden the [shooter] comes out and you see that he’s holding a weapon and you just start yelling, ‘hey please drop the weapon! Drop the weapon!’ As he turns towards you with the weapon, our first thing is us. I want to go home tonight, and I want to see my wife and kids. Every single one of us on our team unloaded on that guy. So if you’re the CHL guy, and you’re coming out of a classroom and… we’re coming, and I’ve got the same situation going on, and if [the CHL holder] can’t respond, then I’m probably – I’m going to take care of business, too, because I don’t know who you are. So obviously our training is possibly going to have to change as to how we respond to these. Because now… there’s the potential that it could be a CHL holder now, too, and not just the bad guy.”


Although the likelihood of an active shooter situation on campus is slim, according to Morris, the mere presence of a gun in classrooms could have repercussions.

Morris argued students could be reluctant to engage in classroom debates if a CHL holder were present. He’s witnessed higher tensions in classrooms recently and said while it might not ever happen, some students might fear for their lives if debates turn into arguments and get out of control.

“We’re a university. We’re here to learn, we’re here to debate, and we all don’t agree on everything,” Morris said. “Now you add into the mix a CHL, too, do people really feel like they want to voice an opinion in a classroom even when we already have this kind of issue where some people are a little more afraid to speak up because of that polarization? Then you have this where you’re afraid that because I challenge your opinion, does it make you so mad that you feel like you have to resort to it with a weapon? You’ve seen some of these road rage incidents where people have CHL’s and they don’t make good judgments. The classroom dynamic is just the same way.”

Phillip Lyons, dean of the college of criminal justice, and Julia May, university spokeswoman, declined to comment on the pending legislation.

House Bill 937, authored by State Rep. Allen Fletcher, R—Tomball, is identical to Senate Bill 11.

More thoughts on campus carry:

Student government and university system officials chimed in on whether or not students should be allowed to carry concealed handguns while on college campuses and the process by which the decision is made.

Tyler Livezey, student government external affairs chief, said while he is a gun supporter, he does not believe the SHSU campus is safe enough without allowing handguns on campus.

“I do not feel the need to carry a weapon on campus here in Huntsville,” Livezey said. “I feel safe and never feel threatened on my walks back and forth to class or moving around on campus late at night. With that said, there may be Universities here in Texas that I my want to carry a concealed weapon with me based on my commute to or around the campus. Here at Sam, I do not feel the need for such a privilege.”

Livezey also concurred with Morris, saying that having guns on campus could change how officers respond to threats.

“It is important that if there is a shooter on campus, or any sort of threat for that matter, to not escalate the situation,” Livezey said. “Allowing guns to be on campus could escalate the situation and provide more danger then what was intended. Not only that, but it could confuse, distract and put at harm the campus and city police that would respond to the situation.”

Mike Wintemute, Texas State University System associate vice chancellor for governmental relations, said while the system has not taken an official stance on the bill, he said employees system wide have voiced opposition to the idea of campus carry.

He also said TSUS Chancellor Brian McCall, Ph.D., told a Texas Legislature finance committee that while he respected the authority of the Texas Legislature to make such a law, he would prefer the decision to allow or disallow campus carry be left to the governing boards of each institution.

There are 5 comments

  1. Bruce La More

    There is no more danger on campus with a CHL holder carrying a firearm than a CHL holder carrying off campus, except for criminals. If Chief Morris is concerned that CHL holders might go after an active shooter or have negative interactions with his officers, UPD would do well to offer training seminars (class room discussion, not actual shooting training) for CHL holders so he can advise them on how to react properly when a campus alert about an active shooter is issued. Morris is correct in his belief that CHL holders do not receive training on how to respond to an active shooter. I suggest he be proactive and lead on this issue. CHL carry on campus may very well be a reality in just a few months. A positive reality in my opinion.

  2. Mike Troxell

    As a CHL holder, its not my job to care about the people around me. If there is an active shooter situation, and I can safely make it around the corner, I am not responsible for the lives around me. I did my time, I have a family to care for. Therefore, it is not my duty to put my life in danger to save those who can not save themselves. My kid will not be raised without a father because I decided to play hero for a day.

    Now if I'm caught in the line of fire then that individual will receive a world of hurt. I didn't survive four combat deployments to be taken out by some kid who can't handle the stresses of life.

    1. Bruce La More

      That would be a reasonable and intelligent response for a CHL holder to make in response to an active shooter scenario. Morris needs to hire you to lead the training.

      1. Mike Troxell

        You can teach a class to a group of idiots and, at the end of the day, they will still be idiots.

        You may get one or two that catch on but they will not have the training needed for it to become muscle memory.

        Too many people forget that there is a lawyer attached to every bullet that leaves your weapon. Few of these individuals have the ability to cover the legal expense, yet want to play hero.

        Do I wish I could conceal carry everywhere? Sure I do. Because the biggest threat to my families safety is an untrained "hero" with a gun.

      2. Bruce La More

        I agree with you. I was being a little facetious regarding the training. The training would be as you said. Don't worry about others. Don't March to the sound of the guns. Protect you and yours.

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