On the morning of Tuesday, September 28, the University of Texas community was alerted to the terrifying situation of a gunman on campus. Students, staff, and faculty were told via text messages, emails, sirens, and various forms of social media to shelter in place and await evacuation.
It was reported that the gunman, later identified as UT student Colton Tooley was armed and seen walking down 21st street, shooting his weapon into the air and ground while yelling and screaming. He then entered into the Perry-Casteneda Library and proceeded up to the sixth floor where he ultimately took his own life. Fortunately, no one else was injured in the process, and it appears that the Tooley had no intention of hurting anyone but himself.
Coincidentally, the Libertarian Longhorns and UT Students for Concealed Carry on Campus had invited Dr. John Lott, famed writer of the book More Guns, Less Crime, to speak on campus that same day. The date had been set since early this past summer, but the campus shooting obviously put Dr. Lott’s talk in jeopardy. However, the organization’s student leaders decided that, out of respect for the speaker who had traveled all the way from Maryland and the importance of the issues at hand, the event should not be canceled.
The two student organizations quickly reorganized the event. Local bookstore Brave New Books generously agreed to host the talk and extended their normal business hours to accommodate. The Libertarian Party of Texas assisted students notifying media outlets and local groups that the event would continue at the new location.
The result was nothing short of phenomenal. At least 125 students and Austinites crammed into Brave New Books to hear John Lott speak about his research on the effects of gun control laws on violent crime. Television, radio, and newspaper outlets from Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas interviewed people and recorded footage of the event. Their response to the presentation was very positive.
UT students Jeff Shi, Kory Zipperer, Justo Montoya, Jose Nino, and Andy Fernandez were interviewed on Austin area news stations and quoted in newspapers across Texas. More news coverage will certainly be released in the coming days.
Despite the sensitive nature of the issue, the Libertarian Longhorns and UT Students for Concealed Carry on Campus acted in a professional manner and provided a solution in a difficult time for the UT campus and Austin community. Their actions are consistent with their firm belief that by educating the community these volatile situations may be reduced.
Media Coverage to date:
Andy Fernandez is a leader of the Libertarian Longhorns at UT-Austin and an SFL Campus Coordinator. Originally posted on the Students for Liberty Blog.