In its pursuit of its "any gun, anywhere, anytime" philosophy, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is currently implementing a nationwide campaign to convince state legislatures to force public colleges and universities to allow the carrying of guns on their campuses, including in classrooms and dormitories. Currently, only approximately 25 of the nation's 4,300+ colleges and universities allow concealed handgun permit holders to bring guns into their campus buildings. But the NRA is active in more than 20 states trying to change the law to force additional schools to allow firearms.
The gun lobby claims that concealed handgun permit holders will protect their fellow students and faculty and make campuses safer because they are "the most law-abiding citizens in America." No comprehensive set of data exists to support that claim. What we do know is that there have been 20 confirmed mass shootings (i.e., three or more innocents killed) committed by individuals who were allowed by law to carry guns in public since May 2007 (among other violent offenses).
No college or university in America has voluntarily elected to allow guns on its campus. More than 276 colleges and universities in 36 states across the country have now signed a resolution opposing any legislation that "would preempt an educational institution's right to prohibit or adopt policies to regulate possession of firearms on campus." Opposition to guns on campus is also universal among major national organizations representing secondary education, including the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.
And while pro-gun extremists have frequently invoked the 2007 mass shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech in their campaign to arm college classrooms, those who were personally affected by that tragedy feel quite differently. Not a single victim or survivor of the massacre has come out in support of allowing guns to be carried on college campuses. Additionally, the Virgina Tech Review Panel recommended maintaining existing gun bans on college campuses, writing, "If numerous people had been rushing around with handguns outside Norris Hall on the morning of April 16, the possibility of accidental or mistaken shootings would have increased significantly ... Some students said in their remarks to the panel that they would be uncomfortable going to class with armed students sitting near them or with the professor having a gun. People may get angry even if they are sane, law-abiding citizens ,,, Campus police chiefs...voiced concern that as the number of weapons on campuses increase, sooner or later there would be accidents or assaults from people who are intoxicated or on drugs who either have a gun or interact with someone who does. They argued that having more guns on campus poses a risk of leading to a greater number of accidental and intentional shootings than it does in averting some of the relatively rare homicides." Colleges' gun-free policies have indeed been successful. According to the Department of Education, there are only about 16 shootings a year at America's 4,300+ colleges and universities, a dramatically lower rate than for the nation at large.
|Resources for Advocates
- Information on which colleges/universities currently allow guns on their campuses from the Armed Campuses website.
- States currently considering guns on campus bills from the Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus.
- Reports from Students for Gun Free Schools: Why Our Campuses are Safer Without Concealed Handguns and How We Can Prevent Future Tragedies
- Report from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence: No Gun Left Behind: The Gun Lobby's Campaign to Push Guns into Colleges and Schools
- Report from the Legal Community Against Violence: Caught in the Crossfire: How Concealed Carry Laws Threaten Public Safety
- Position Paper from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities: Concealed Weapons on State College Campuses: In Pursuit of Individual Liberty and Collective Security
- Position Paper from the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators: Position Statement on Concealed Carrying of Firearms Proposals on College Campuses