Should Guns Be Allowed On College Campuses?
These articles appeared in CQ Researcher in May 2007.
Gun-free school zones have proven to be a dangerous delusion that has resulted in people being forced to be victims.
The only people guaranteed to be safe in gun-free zones are criminals. They can count on the law-abiding being disarmed. In reality, gun-free zones are nothing more than criminal safe zones.
Criminals have proven that they not only disrespect laws, they are willing and able to break them. The island nation of Great Britain has banned guns. In 1997, they confiscated virtually all legal guns. Yet today, the police there estimate that England has twice the number of guns in the country -- illegally. The press in Manchester refer to their city as "Gunchester."
Stricter gun control laws than those in the United States have not protected Canada, Scotland, and Germany from mass murderers striking schools.
The solution is to empower the most responsible people in America to be intermixed with potential victims so that they might have the opportunity to be the first responders to head off attacks such as the one at Virginia Tech. We have enough people licensed to carry firearms that we can now say with certainty that these are the folks who commit the fewest crimes in our society.
Concealed-weapons carriers commit even fewer violent crimes than do police.
Yet our federal and state laws (with a few exceptions such as Utah and Arizona) prohibit these potential Good Samaritans from being armed on our college campuses. One concealed-carry permit holder is a graduate of Virginia Tech. After a murder at the edge of campus last August, he wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper, confessing that he had not been carrying his gun on campus because he did not want to jeopardize his graduate career should he get caught. But afterward, he noted, he considered the fact that had he been killed, that also would have jeopardized his graduate career.
We have seen that armed civilians, students and staff alike have been able to get their guns and stop campus killers in the past -- such as in Pearl, Miss., (1997) and Grundy, Va., (2002). But in those cases, the heroes had to run to their cars and get their guns and run back to the scene of the crime to stop the killer, losing valuable time.
Armed self-defense works. Disarmament kills.
College campuses will not be safer if we give everyone a gun and encourage the crossfire. Schools should be sanctuaries where students can grow and learn in an environment free from the risks of gunfire. The fact that such sanctuaries have been invaded by dangerous individuals with guns is a reason to strengthen state and federal laws designed to keep guns away from people like the shooter at Virginia Tech, not to weaken policies that tightly restrict firearms on campus. A thorough Brady background check would have stopped the purchase of the guns used in that massacre. This is a far more effective way to reduce the risks of gun violence on college campuses, and one that carries no downsides.
Despite the horrific massacre at Virginia Tech, college and university campuses are much safer than the communities that surround them. College students are almost 20 percent less likely than non-students of the same age to experience violence, and 93 percent of the violence against students occurs off campus.
If students and teachers start carrying guns on campus, we can anticipate the increased dangers and risks that will follow: greater potential for student-on-student and student-on-faculty violence, and more lethal results when such violence occurs; an increased risk of suicide attempts ending in fatalities, and gun thefts and subsequent harm to people on and off campus.
The college-age years -- 18 to 24 -- are the most volatile years in most people's lives. These are the peak years for binge drinking and drug use, mental health challenges and suicide risks -- and commission of violent gun crimes, including homicides. Two studies have confirmed that college gun owners are more likely than the average student to engage in binge drinking, need an alcoholic drink first thing in the morning, use cocaine or crack, be arrested for a DUI, vandalize property, be injured in an alcohol-related fight and get in trouble with police. Binge-drinking, drug-using students are dangerous enough; let's not give them guns.
The Virginia Tech shooter was a 23-year-old college student who the Commonwealth of Virginia thought was a lawful firearms purchaser. Allowing guns on college campuses would not only have armed him more easily, but other potentially dangerous individuals as well.
Adding more guns to a home, a state or a country leads to more gun violence, not less. The same lesson holds true for schools, too.