Community College Professor’s Response to Campus Carry


Update 1/19/19:  My memoir, Angels in the OR: What Dying Taught Me About Healing, Survival, and Transformation, can be pre-ordered now.  It is a #1 new release in several categories.  I would love it if you helped me make near-death experiences more mainstream. 

The love in my heart and soul is a billion times stronger than a gun strapped to my hip.  Love is what has transformed my life and other’s lives.  Love is the only thing that matters—the only thing that lasts, transcends, and lives on in the realms beyond this one.  Love is all that we take with us.

Teaching is the way that I have been guided to give love and to serve this world, and my hope has always been to create a brighter world through education.  I love my community college students even before I meet them.  I love them so that their journeys will open to wider paths and their options for success will be more plentiful.  I love them so that their fears will subside, and they can learn with greater understanding.

Teaching in junior high, high school, and at the college level has been a holy profession for me. While doing my training to teach in the public school, I remember viewing a video about a teacher who was informed that her students were gifted.  In turn, she treated these students as if they were gifted, and they excelled because of her expectations.  I imagined that if I walked into each classroom with unconditional appreciation for students and belief in their abilities, no matter what they had suffered or no matter what delinquent behaviors they exhibited, then miracles would occur.

Although the threat of an active shooter is a topic of concern at all schools, I chose to focus on ways to pinpoint, defuse, and bring healing to volatile situations before they spiraled out of control.  I started teaching in public schools after the Columbine High School tragedy and quickly realized that many teachers have been on alert to catch possible threats before they materialize and that seems like the best defense.

At the community college level, campus police are proactive and frequently walk the halls; there is a general feeling of safety at my campus.  My students are often adults with full-time jobs, families, and other responsibilities.  Other students have recently graduated from high school, but even these students often work and have quite a few responsibilities.   Certainly, I’ve  encountered a few students in need of disciplinary interventions, but I never thought that concealed weapons would make us all safer.

Campus carry is the strangest change I’ve witnessed in education. Texas legislation has thrown the possibility of guns into the middle of my love fest, and now I don’t know whether the most loving thing I can do is to be a loving person carrying a concealed weapon or to be a loving person without one.

I’m at ease and skilled with guns, and I’ve taken several self-defense classes and weapon training classes over the years.  I’m a victim of rape, theft, harassment, and stalking. Owning guns was never problematic for me, but bringing guns to school seems odd.   To my friends in Europe, the policy seems insane.

good shot

Whatever I decide to do because of this change, I know that I will be incorporating more meditation and mindfulness exercises into my English classes.  I will be praying for the safety of our students and that everyone makes wise, safe choices.  My primary message to students is that education can be a path to a better life, to healing, and to greater opportunities.  I don’t ever want fear to be stronger than hope.

On a basic level, it makes sense that more guns will cause more violent crime, but I do understand why people think guns might make them safer.   Certainly, from a victim’s point of view I wonder how certain situations might have turned out differently if I had a gun and the other person didn’t. But, I also know that the type of men who stalk, harass, and rape women might also use weapons to try to assert power over others.

Will Sam Colt be the great equalizer of the sexes?  I’m not sure. Will more women, especially young women who are extremely vulnerable to these situations, learn how to use and carry guns?   I certainly hope that more women do take self-defense classes in this current environment.

Having guns on a college campus doesn’t fit with my ideas about talking openly about intense topics.  The University of Houston has suggested that professors avoid sensitive topics and that prospect saddens me.  If having guns on campus does not create an environment which encourages students to think critically and deeply about their world, then guns should not be allowed on campus. 

In college, I loved hearing diverse opinions and solid, academic research, and I would hate to think of professors feeling intimidated enough to make a blander, watered down curriculum in response to the policy.  I hope that we can have more discussions about power, privilege, and why gun violence can not be our new normal.

One professor I know tells students on the first day of class, “Please don’t shoot me. Come talk to me and let me get the help for you that you need.”  The students think that their professor is joking, but this statement is not a joke.  Other professors I know who are nearing retirement are now considering changing paper topics to more fun, upbeat assignments that will encourage group work and laughter, not debate.

This summer in Raleigh, North Carolina, I got the chance to talk with the artist David Hess who built 100 mock assault rifles with household items like vacuum cleaner parts. The mood at his show is considerably different than the mood at an actual gun show. Lots of people of all ages smiled and picked up his fake guns for pictures.  Many people pointed them at one another and laughed.  Hess hopes to facilitate more discussions about fear and control, and he rejects polarized conversations about guns. However, he does want to make a difference in the tragedy of so much gun violence in the U.S.

Because of my near-death experience, I have a strong belief that my very life was saved so that I might reach as many students as possible. Right now, I am struggling to determine what the most light-filled, uplifting response is to campus carry.

I went into teaching in order to create greater peace, prosperity, and harmony in the world. I never pictured myself doing this with a gun strapped to my thigh or my hip, but I am a survivor, and I will do what I believe is the best, wisest choice for myself and for my students.

I am trying to adapt to a reality which is not acceptable.  I don’t like this change, but Texas is the place where I have a coveted, full-time position.  I have no choice but to bring as much lightness, peace, wisdom, and levity as possible to this new landscape.

But, really, if we are going to bring guns and knives to school like this is the Wild West, can we at least ride horses to class, have community gardens, talk around campfires by the river, look at the stars, and put away the cell phones?

2 thoughts on “Community College Professor’s Response to Campus Carry

  1. Hello Tricia! Thank you for having the courage and awareness to write this post. As you well know, I too had a life changing NDE many years ago. One thing I quickly realized, the only creative force in the universe is love…unconditional love to be precise. There are a few points I wish to make. Having embarked on the path of being a healer, spiritual counselor, and from awareness gained through my NDE, I realized guns represent and express only one thing…fear. Everything in life, we all approach from either fear, or love, there are no exceptions. What qualifies me in offering my piece on your blog? Especially the fact I live in Canada? Love qualifies me, first and foremost, and no other reason is needed. But I also know guns well. I owned and was trained on handling guns in very specific situations. Through various life experiences, traveling, and most certainly not because of a lifestyle choice, I’ve had guns pointed in my face, knives at my throat, and been shot at twice. I do not own guns any longer, and do not fear death. I lament beyond anything anyone can possibly realize the reality and pervasiveness of guns in the US. When I juxtapose the fact I am writing these words right now, against the other fact I will be doing energy work sessions later today and tomorrow, both realities stand at the opposite side of the spectrum. A person carries a gun because of fear. A person uses a gun because of fear. A person wishes to defend themselves or loved ones with a weapon because of fear. Fear is a choice…but so is love. During my energy work sessions, the energy comes from the source of unconditional LOVE…this love overrides and disintegrates any shred of fear.

    One thing I have noticed, the general populace has learned to adapt with a reality which is absolutely not acceptable. The powder keg which is the US, will blow, this is a certainty, and when this happens, the reality is a great percentage of the population is armed to the teeth. What for? Why? Because concessions were given to powerful groups which makes billions of dollars each year preying on the fear and weaknesses of people. Common sense has never once entered the equation when addressing the problem. Why does a citizen believe there is a need to carry a weapon, which has the capacity to rip the flesh open of another human being, and what gives the right to anyone to have dominion over the decision to end the life of another…another human being which in most cases has no direct involvement or tie to the person. I don’t know if anyone has ever noticed. The school shootings which have become an epidemic, the people who kill do not kill the people they know and respect, or their family members first. No, they go for peers, or in most cases, people who they feel will not love them. Narcissism, glorification of power, the need for attention, the heart and core of human beings being overlooked or discarded…these are just very few of the problems. The need for validation from others has become such a big problem that in a situation like the US where anyone can own or find a gun only minutes away, you have people lashing out in the most heinous manner possible.

    Please, Tricia, continue being a voice of love. I will be a support for you in any way you deem necessary or fitting. The ripple effect of the good you do reaches far beyond your earthly incarnation can see for now. In Light, Love, Peace.

    By the way, true to form for me, my replies to anything online or in person all seem to become dissertations…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Daniel….I am grateful for the perspective of someone living in Canada. I think we are losing perspective and common sense here. I agree that guns represent and express fear. Education was the place where I practiced giving unconditional love to the world, and now fear has been added to the equation. I’ve openly grappled with what to do about this change, and your thoughts give me peace. This is certainly a reality that I can’t adjust to. I imagine that many professors will eventually leave education. Thank you for your comment and wisdom. I like this dissertation! Thank you for the amazing healing work that you do in this world.


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