Author’s note: This article talks about guns and gun violence.
Ever think about how many of your fellow students on campus have concealed carry gun permits? 1? 10? 100? 500? 1,000? How many people in your math lecture, or on a given day in the library, may have guns in their backpacks or tucked in at their hips? 10? 20? 50? And we’re not debating state gun laws. We’re not even debating whether students should have guns or not, or whether it should be so easy to buy guns or not, or even whether, properly placed, if they can save
lives or not. We’re talking about the new report from NASPA — Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education that warned that school campuses should not assume that students with concealed carry permits are actually trained in how to use their weapons.
The past couple years have seen a spike in college shootings, such as the Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon that saw nine dead this past October, among others. You would think this would mean many lawmakers would come together to work on legislation banning weapons from campus grounds. Yet, the reverse has been true. This new NASPA report actually has studied the trend of conservative lawmakers more aggressively pushing for laws that would require colleges to allow guns on campus so long as their bearers have concealed carry permits.
So what do you need to know about guns on your campus?
Concealed carry campus gun laws are considered a state issue, so every state is different. However, the states to watch for now are California, where recent legislation has made guns totally prohibited from campus, Ohio where legislation to allow is pending, and Texas where concealed carry has recently been enacted.
In the calendar year of 2015, fifteen bills to allow guns on campus have been drawn up, and while thirteen have died, this points to an obvious trend of more lawmakers pushing to let students carry guns to class.
The federal government (as of this 2012 Government Accountability Office report) believes that students are no safer if their fellow students have guns on campus. In fact, because state permits vary greatly from state to state, it’s hard to regulate if everyone has had a similar level of training to operate firearms. Especially on a college campus, where everyone comes from all over, it’s hard to regulate such things.
Even the toughest eligibility requirements don’t train individuals to respond effectively to active shooter situations. So even in the case of a situation like Paris, for example, where armed gunmen stormed cafes and stadiums, most with weapons wouldn’t know what to do, unless they’ve had police or military training before. But civilian training isn’t enough.
Some school officials believe that the increased presence of concealed carriers may actually make the situation worse, because their lack of training could actually inflame a situation. For example, security services could have issues figuring out who’s the shooter and who isn’t.
The “weapons effect” published by some scientist argues that the “mere presence of a weapon actually increases feelings of anger in both aggressive and non-aggressive individuals.”
Rep. Mack Butler of Rainbow City, Alabama (R), who was sponsoring a bill that would allow universities to set rules about the storage of pistols in dorms, said that with “reasonable rules” limiting concealed carry, students would be able to make public places safer.
Proponents say that students’ First Amendment rights are continually upheld by being allowed to bring their weapons on campus, because they “do not give up their rights just because they are furthering their education,” says Butler.
If universities allow guns on campus, universities could impose their own rules, such as making all concealed carry students take a mandatory qualifying course that satisfies the university standard (perhaps even teach them active shooter scenario training, should that ever occur on campus).
It’s a tricky situation–no doubt, and there’s no question that in this calendar year, too, students’ lives will be put on the line in active shooter scenarios across the country. While unfortunate, we have to look at solutions to trying to end this gun violence on our campuses. Could limiting, or not limiting, concealed carry weapons on campus possibly be the solution?