Schools are meant to prepare students for the future and aid them with their quest to success, and yet why do so many schools adopting totally unrelated policies that would make the learning environment uncomfortable and unsafe? According to the National Conference Of State Legislatures, '10 states now have provisions allowing the carrying of concealed weapons on public post-secondary campuses.' (Guns on Campus) The tragedy that took place at North Lake College back in May 2017, when Adrian Torres shot another student whom he was targeting and other terrifying school shootings across the U.S., illustrates the devastating effect of guns on our school communities. Therefore, in order to, keep the campuses safe and without unnecessary pressure; post-secondary students must not be allowed to possess concealed weapons while on campus as incidents of a mass shooting are rare, often, carrying guns will only result in more gun deaths and injuries, and more preventive measures can be put in place to secure a campus.
Many for-carry organizations claim that students are entitled to weapons to defend themselves. Such claims generally fall into two categories — either a. they build on the myth of 'good citizen with a weapon,' the concept that a well-trained and knowledgeable gun owner or group of people can stop a school shooting before it gets out of hand; or b. they point to states or universities that allow concealed carry in campus, and they argue that it did not cause any harm.
As for argument A, the myth of 'good citizen with a weapon' is just that--a myth. According to research done by scientists from Johns Hopkins University, they discovered that many of the deadly mass shootings often take place in areas where guns are permitted and people with weapons are rarely able to prevent them. (Policies to Reduce Gun Violence On The Country) This myth is based on the belief that citizens with concealed permits are more law-abiding and ready for dire circumstances than citizens without permits. The fact is that this is simply a theory because incidents prevented by armed civilians are unusual and difficult to confirm, and that armed civilians are far less prepared for dire situations than professional law enforcement personnel, who themselves sometimes see a deterioration in their reliability and skills in such scenarios. Scientist Stephen Boss, who analyzed each U.S. campus shooting from 2001 to 2016, has reported in his book Guns and College Homicides that no direct participation and no deterrence impact by individuals with a weapon from the campus. (Guns and College Homicide P.25)
Regarding argument B, Boss has also reported that murders are rare in universities and colleges that permit concealed weapons, but still no rarer than universities or colleges who outlawed weapons altogether. (Guns and College Homicide P.4) Even though, according to Gunfire on School Grounds in the U.S., the University of Utah in Salt Lake has already had a homicide on campus for the last two years consecutive. (Gunfire on School Grounds in the United States) Campus pro-guns argue that since they have not seen an increase in mass shootings and murders on campuses that are allowing concealed weapons, then carrying must be okay, correct? However, it overlooks other issues that result from bringing weapons on campus, which often include issues such as loaded guns being unintentionally discharged or students with conceal and carry taking part in activities that might involve some sort of guns and could endanger themselves and others. This also disregards more in-school problems, including students and staff members leaving schools because they feel insecure, professors being forced to change their ways of teaching in order to avoid controversial topics that might lead to heated arguments in the classroom. Can armed students and faculty members stop a mass shooting? From reports as well as real-life incidents, armed people on campus are more likely to injure themselves or their colleagues (whether intentionally or accidentally) than in the act of self-defense to shoot an offender. Pro-campus-carries neglect the problem of suicide on campus, which becomes much more likely if guns are allowed.
Nonetheless, it is so unusual to hear about campus shootings considering that the only thing we know colleges are for is to educate. Knowing this, people get terrified when they hear about shootings on campuses. A document released by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice concluded that, between 1992 and 2006, at least 50 times as many teenagers between the ages of 5 and 18 were killed off campus than on campus. (Survey Violent Victimization of College Students) The document, further, states that at least 150 times as many youth suicides were taken place on a non-campus property. The risk of gunning down a student on the campus is extremely low. There is no uncertainty about the risk of campus shootings; however, it's much smaller than many people presume. Plus, it's far lower than almost any other risk of mortality a student faces, like driving to and from school, getting a possibly deadly infection while at college, or sustaining a life-threatening incident during interscholastic games. Federal and state law guaranteeing campuses are gun-free zones has helped make campuses much safer, while greatly reducing gun violence.
Additionally, guns on campuses don't make students safer, or anyone else in that respect. There is no proof to suggest that firearms keep campus safer. On the opposite, there is tons of evidence suggesting that gun involvement, whether on campus, at the workplace, or at home, further raises the community's risk of gun violence. In reality, campuses are reasonably safe without weapons. Despite bearing arms being a right of all citizens, conceal and carry on campus will only raise violence. An article released by Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research states, 'The strongest evidence that we have, so far, proves that concealed weapons policies do not save lives, as the supporters state.' (Should Students be Allowed to Carry Concealed Weapons?) The recent incidents that occurred on college campuses reflect that violence is most often committed against students by students. The attacker uses firearms more than any other weapon in an incident. Ian Ayres, an American lawyer and a professor at the Yale Law School says that there is no reliable statistical proof that laws authorizing concealed weapons decrease violence. Nonetheless, the evidence indicates that laws authorizing concealed would more likely increase violence (More Guns, Less Crime). This can guarantee that irresponsible conceal and carry holders can not only cause more trouble during the shooting but can also be the ones to initiate the violence.
Lastly, there are more effective measures that campuses can take to ensure security instead of the aggressive right to have a weapon. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, currently, '25 out of 50 states are restricting weapons on campuses, eight of the remaining 25 are leaving the decision to the universities, and certain states have yet to deal with the issue'. (Guns on Campus). The majority of states are trying to help with the threats on colleges, so in a way, all the states should try to solve the issue. Instead of just eliminating weapon colleges and universities, metal decorators could be introduced, additional protection could be added, and help students become more aware of the potential dangers.
Ultimately, weapons will always be a controversial issue. Today, the potential for harm caused by having hidden weapons on campuses greatly outweighs the good it could do. Since the Columbine incident, there have been many other school shootings, and these types of incidents do not seem to be decreasing. Unless necessary measures were taken to ensure the safety of the students and school staff, no college in the U.S. should be recognized as a 'safe zone.' While at campus Post-secondary students or staff members must not be allowed to possess any sort of concealed weapons because incidents of a mass shooting are so uncommon, oftentimes, carrying guns will only result in more gun deaths and injuries, and more preventive measures can be put in place to secure a campus. When that happens, then everyone would sleep with ease in mind.
- American Association of State Colleges and Universities. (2018). Guns on campus: Overview. Retrieved from https://www.aascu.org/policy-matters/10.28.13-guns-on-campus/
- Boss, S. (2019). Guns and college homicide: A case study of the University of Akron. University of Akron Press.
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- Morgan, R. M., Pennington, L., & Zatzick, D. F. (2018). Evaluating the impact of campus gun carry legislation: A tale of two Texas universities. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 33(11), 1727-1747.
- National Conference of State Legislatures. (2022). Guns on campus. Retrieved from https://www.ncsl.org/research/education/guns-on-campus-overview.aspx
- Webster, D. W., Vernick, J. S., & Zeoli, A. M. (2019). Association between youth-focused firearm laws and youth suicides. JAMA, 322(4), 325-326.