Kerry Wilson, Opinion Editor

Basically, they can keep it a secret. We can’t say ‘I need all residents to register that you have a handgun.’ So we don’t ask the questions. We should only find out about them if an issue comes up.”

— Michael Stark, Director of Residential, Living, and Learning

Texas A&M University-Commerce will now allow licensed students to have handguns in residence halls, as a result of the recent Campus Carry law passed in 2015.

A&M-Commerce’s policy states that licensed students are permitted to have handguns in their rooms as long as the guns are stored in a safe and kept away from other students. Allowing licensed students to have handguns in their rooms allows room for one question: whether or not the students with guns in residence halls must inform others of the gun’s presence.

Michael Stark, director of Residential Living and Learning, said that students in possession of a concealed handgun should do just that – keep it concealed.

“Basically, they can keep it a secret,” Stark said. “We can’t say ‘I need all residents to register that you have a handgun.’ So we don’t ask the questions. We should only find out about them if an issue comes up.”

Stark mentioned that assumptions about whether a student has a gun cannot be made on the basis of a safe being in a room, since safes are allowed.

“Any student could have a safe anyway. Just because a student has a safe in the room doesn’t mean that they automatically have a handgun,” Stark said. “The way that the law is set up, we can’t ask those questions. So I could actually have an RA who has their concealed handgun license, who has it and is on rounds. They don’t have to tell me either. It’s their right to have it. In theory, we should never know anything. Though, if I do know, that also doesn’t mean that I get to go tell everybody that you have a concealed handgun.”

The thought of guns being allowed in residence halls can leave students with opinions on both extremes, seeing either the best in the concealed carry law and others seeing the worst in it.

A&M-Commerce sophomore, Tyler McCrary, sees the situation from both sides.

“I think that everyone has a right to be safe first of all,” McCrary said. “I think it has a lot to do with people wanting to feel safe and then who they feel safe around in the residence hall. If they know a lot of people that they don’t feel safe around, it might add to their comfort a little bit. But, in the case of something to happen like an incident where a gun was to go off or something, the one thing I’ve been worried about is like what if people are prone to draw and have them out. I know it might be an irrational fear or something, but if there was to be an active shooter on campus and you were to walk around and see people with their guns looking around, how do you know who the bad guy is?”

A&M-Commerce Junior, Tyler Townsend, views concealed carry as a good option for people who are committed to keeping a safe environment.

“I’m for concealed carry because if you have your permit, you probably went through a lot of classes and know quite a bit about safety and regulations,” Townsend said. “I feel like you would only use it for a good purpose and make others feel safe because you went through the work to get that permit.”

With all the concerns and differing opinions, Stark said his primary focus is on the wellbeing of the students on campus.

“A lot of people have different opinions on it,” Stark said. “Some folks are for it and some are against it. “Regardless of where I stand on it, my concern is always about safety. If this is what we have to do legally, then this is what we have to do legally. How do we figure out the most safe method for providing the legal requirement for students?”

The A&M-Commerce policy concerning handguns on campus prohibits handguns in the Nuclear Storage room, the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Laboratory, Children’s Learning Center, Counseling Center, buildings with camps and programs, employee offices, and campus properties leased to third parties. For more information on handguns on campus, visit