As Texas prepares for it’s new campus carry law to go into effect on August 1, the University of Texas is mourning one of its own, Haruka Weiser, an 18-year-old freshman who was murdered about a week ago, her body found in a creek on campus.
Police identified and arrested Meechaiel Criner, a 17-year-old homeless teen who had run away from home and is not affiliated with the university, as a suspect in Weiser’s murder, according to this story from Newsweek.
In the aftermath of Weiser’s death, some are criticizing plans at UT-Austin to create a number of gun-free zones on its campus. Texas’ campus carry law will allow residents with concealed handgun licenses to carry them on campuses and in school buildings, but it also allows college and university presidents to designate gun-free zones.
The story says the national organization Students for Concealed Carry on Monday issued a statement responding to Weiser’s death, saying UT-Austin’s proposed policy would leave women there “less able to defend themselves…than in most other places throughout the state.”
The university’s proposed policy would prohibit guns at sporting events, in some laboratories, and at most places in residence halls. Anyone on campus with an office can also prohibit them there. The school’s policy would also prohibit anyone from carrying a firearm with a round in the chamber.
“The recent tragedy at UT-Austin should serve as a wakeup call to university administrators who seek to handicap (CCW license holders) on campus,” said a statement from Students for Concealed Carry, a national gun rights organization. “Imagine that you’re a 22-year-old woman walking back to your car after studying late at the UT library. As you reach for your car door, a man lunges from the shadows and grabs your other arm. Your adrenaline surges, and your mind goes to the concealed handgun tucked into your waistband…You draw it just as his free hand draws a knife from his pocket. You point the gun at your assailant, squeeze the trigger and…CLICK. Per UT-Austin’s campus carry policy, your gun’s chamber is empty. Even if you had an extra second to chamber a round, you’d need both hands to do it.”
However, in a later statement, the group made it clear they weren’t saying if Weiser had been armed, she would still be alive.
“The statement released by SCC is not about the specifics of this crime or its victim…We do not suggest that the victim should have been carrying a gun or even—given her young age—that she should have had the option to carry a gun. Furthermore, we do not postulate that the outcome of this crime would have been different if the victim had been carrying a gun. Our only objective in referencing this crime is to acknowledge the reality that violent crimes do occur on college campuses.”
At 18, Weiser would have been too young to carry a concealed firearm in Texas, where permits are only issued to those who are 21 and older.
Julie Gavran, the Southwest coordinator for the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus and a student at UT-Dallas, echoed a familiar argument espoused by anti-gunners, that even if Weiser had been old enough to be legally armed and had been carrying that it wouldn’t have done any good, because “she could have easily been overtaken, even if there were a bullet in the chamber already. So I think this fantasy of just having everyone carry a gun to protect themselves isn’t true. It’s not something that can stop these tragedies, unfortunately.”