Campus safety has become an increasingly crucial concern for all Higher Education institutions in America. Campus shootings at the University of Texas at Austin, University of Alabama, Northern Illinois University and the infamous Virginia Tech gunman have put schools in a position where they must consider allowing students to carry firearms. Every postsecondary campus has a form of campus safety and police officers that constantly patrol the premises. Despite the presence of police officers, many campuses are still vulnerable to random mass-shootings. Is the solution to arm our teachers and students? Should firearm training be a new prerequisite for incoming freshmen? There may not be a universal solution to these random acts of violence however, colleges nationwide have an obligation to provide a safe living and academic environment for the millions of undergraduates attending higher education institutions.
There are currently 21 states that prohibit the possession of concealed weapons on public postsecondary campuses: Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming. New state legislation and court rulings in 5 states now have provisions allowing students to carry of concealed weapons on public postsecondary campuses which include Colorado, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin. It is understandable to assume that an individual who is trained in firearms could potentially prevent a criminal from committing a crime on-campus. Although this is an idealist way of thinking, there are only a handful of instances in which a licensed firearm owner has prevented a crime from happening within society. Those instances are even rarer at a postsecondary campus.
Arming the “traditional” college students who range from 18-22 years old with handguns seems extreme. College is a time when individuals are establishing their own identity, transitioning into adulthood and dealing with extreme academic/social stress for the first time in their lives. As a Resident Hall Director at the University of Mississippi, I counsel and mentor a variety of students dealing with severe anxiety, depression and in extreme cases suicidal thoughts. Increasing the number of concealed weapons on campus will only increase the number of violent events on campus, in my opinion. Although all gun owners must go through training and receive a proper background check, everyone has a boiling point. All college campuses are “sensitive” areas in which the number of allowed weapons should be kept to a minimum. If schools insist on allowing students to carry concealed firearms, they must consider where the state laws stand on this issue and if alternative methods of protection are viable solutions.
Liu, M. (2012). Guns on Campus. State Legislatures, 38(3), 9.
Meloy, A. (2011). Guns on Campus: What Are the Limits?. Presidency, 14(1), 12-14.