On March 5, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in favor of Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) in a suit brought against the University of Colorado. SCC sued because the school’s prohibition of legally concealed guns on campus violated the state’s right-to-carry laws. Although the Court did not say they were in favor of concealed weapons at universities per se, they did acknowledge that the regulation of firearms is a power that resides with the state’s legislative body, not the administration of the school.
This ruling once again brings a focus to the debate of concealed carry on college campuses. What remains a mystery to pro-gun advocates is why a college campus should be thought of as somehow separate or different from any other place that people live and work when it comes to issues of self defense. Here are eight reasons why carry on campus should be allowed.
No Negative Impact on the Learning Environment
One of the concerns expressed by college and university administrations is that the presence of concealed weapons in the classroom will be disruptive to the learning environment. It seems a bit silly to state the obvious, but how can someone feel threatened by an object they are unaware of? In an interview last year, Utah State University (USU) Police Chief Steve Mecham told a reporter that he doesn't know how many USU students, faculty or staff members possess concealed firearm permits or how many individuals use their permits to carry concealed firearms on campus. He went on to say, "I interpret [the law] as most college campuses in the state interpret it -- that if you have a concealed weapon permit you must carry [the weapon] concealed."
The Utah concealed carry laws that allow individuals to conceal guns on school grounds have been in place since the mid 1990s. This means the secondary schools that did not have gun bans on the books at that time, like USU, have been a working concealed carry laboratory for over 15 years. If any issues related to concealed guns blocking the absorption of data by fertile young minds were going to surface, they would have done so by now. As it is, keeping guns out-of-sight is successfully keeping them out-of-mind.
Home Defense is Campus Defense
Few state or federal organizations can argue with an individual’s right to keep firearms in their homes for self defense. But the right to defend yourself where you live is suspended if you live in student housing on the campus of a college that bans firearms. In Utah, all state-run schools must allow students or faculty with valid state-issued concealed carry permits to exercise their rights if they so chose. This right extends to student housing as well. A student who is uncomfortable with guns has the right to request a transfer to another room with a non-gun owner.
More Guns Does Not Equal More Crime
One learning opportunity provided in college is the process of examining flawed logic. Anti-gun groups often place the responsibility for violent acts with firearms themselves, instead of the individuals who misuse them. This skewed belief equates the presence of guns with violence. So then it seems logical to say that more guns will create more violence, whereas fewer guns will result in less violence. This is why they believe guns should be banned from campus.
Unfortunately for those who continue to hold to this erroneous perspective, the real-world numbers do not support it. In the last 40 years, as the number of legal firearms in responsible citizens’ hands has risen to a record high, violent crime has continued to drop to an all-time low. Gun-rights advocates cannot scientifically prove the increase in gun ownership is the direct cause of crime reduction. However, it can now be said that the claim that more guns equals more crime is not a valid one. Therefore, allowing student and staff members to carry is unlikely to increase campus violence.
A common misconception about concealed carry is the idea that those individuals who want a permit are mostly men raised with a hunting or shooting background. However, statistics show that women are choosing to arm themselves more than ever. No other defensive tool available, including stun guns and pepper spray, provides a woman with the kind of equalizing power a handgun offers when attacked by a larger, stronger assailant. It’s perplexing that the same activist groups that work to empower women often strive to keep guns out of their hands.
When Seconds Count, Help is Only Minutes Away
No matter where an armed assailant begins to act out against their intended victims, on a college campus or anywhere else, it will always take time for law enforcement or security personnel to respond. Add the actual travel time to the minutes needed to relay the message, organize the teams and materials, and evaluate the situation, and it becomes clear that you may be waiting for quite some time. In the case of the Virginia Tech shooting of 2007, the gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, had the foresight to chain the three main doors of Norris Hall in order to slow first responders even more.
Don't forget, state and federal courts have ruled on several occasions that police officers do not have a duty to risk their lives in order to protect another person from harm. In other words, once they actually arrive, they are under no obligation to take a bullet on your behalf just because they wear a uniform. This is why legal concealed carry makes sense. The person nearest the threat who can act the most quickly to stop the threat is the person being threatened.
Gun Free Zones Are Not Safety Zones
The anti-gun website Armed Campuses points out that most of the 4,300 colleges and universities in the United States prohibit the legal carry of firearms. It goes on to say, "These gun-free policies have helped to make our postsecondary education institutions some of the safest places in the country." It’s doubtful the families of students shot on university campuses would agree.
In studies of natural history, the animal kingdom is commonly divided into those creatures that are prey and those that are predators. The beauty of the human race is our unique ability to produce a third classification: the protector. The common error made by anti-gun groups like Armed Campuses is the failure to logically delineate the differences in the motivations of individuals who would use lethal force to be predators and those who are willing to use lethal force to stop the predation.
Students Should Exercise Their Rights
We live in a unique country governed by an unusual document we simply call the Constitution. An important part of a higher education is learning what rights we have and how we can exercise them for our benefit as well as the benefit of others. College students are expected to exercise their right to free speech, to take up political causes and to stand for what they believe in. It should seem hypocritical to deny them the opportunity to take on the responsibility of their personal safety.
Trusting Adults to Behave Like Adults
The college environment is often seen as being emotionally volatile. What if a student just flips out from the stress and all-Ramen noodle diet? What if they don't like the grade they got in French 101? What if they're just mad as hell at the limited parking on campus and they're just not going to take it anymore?
Let's not forget that these same adults, since a person must be 21 years old to have a carry permit in most states, are trusted on a daily basis with all kinds of materials they could misuse. Chemistry majors can lay their hands on everything they need to mix explosives. Medical students have access to scalpels, poisons and additive drugs. Various engineering programs give students access to everything from potential network-hacking electronics to blueprints for nuclear bombs.
So why aren't college campuses a source of social anarchy? It’s because students are invested in their education. They’ve worked hard to earn good grades and obtain a college degree. Adult students have a desire to live up to the responsibilities they have now and will eventually be given. If these are the same people we are going to eventually entrust with running our hospitals, economy and government, then perhaps it's time to trust them to act responsibly with defensive firearms.