BY LIBBA KING
The recent series of shootings on college campuses across the United States have left students, professors, and onlookers from across the globe with similar rage, confusion, and sadness. Those in favor of concealed carry make an argument that resonates with our deepest fear: losing the ones we love due to isolated incidents of violence. However, the often-expressed sentiment that legal concealed carry on campus will make the student body safer against a potential mass shooter is not only reckless and misguided, it is dangerous.
To start with, as of earlier this year, there have been a staggering 722 non-self-defense gunshot fatalities attributable to individuals with legal concealed carry permits. Citing evidence published in the Journal of American College Health, 78% of students in the Midwest oppose concealed firearms on campus. It is important to note that the percentage of households in the Midwest region with a gun in the home is 35% — the second highest in the nation. This shows that even students who come from homes with guns do not support their place on college campuses. Moreover, research out of Ball State University demonstrates that 95% of top college leadership, presidents and chancellors, oppose guns on their campuses. Additionally, only 5% of university police chiefs from across the country hold the opinion that allowing students to carry firearms on campus can actually stop shootings. It is thus clear that students and college administrations would be extremely violated with the proliferation of guns on college campuses through concealed carry. Evidence and statistics about whether proliferation of legally-bought guns makes society safer is indeed fraught with controversy, and both proponents of concealed carry have ample ammo to ground their respective opinion in evidence, no matter how contested that evidence is in academic circles. However, simply knowing that college students, administration members, and police forces oppose concealed carry on campus, it misguided to suggest more firearms would be a source of safety in student communities.
A national survey from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism demonstrates that almost 60% of college students ages 18-22 report binge drinking in the past month. There have been numerous accounts of concealed weapon permit-holders killing others while under the influence of alcohol. Some may argue students ages 21 and up, the common legal age to buy a firearm with a concealed carry permit, are past the bright-eyed, fraternity-hopping stage of binge drinking and are mature enough to not consume alcohol if they have a weapon on their person. However, data from the Harvard Injury Control Research Center shows that students with firearms at college are more likely to endanger themselves and others through alcohol-related behaviors. The fact that college campuses indeed do have drugs and alcohol, factors that possibly affect one’s body and mind negatively, is a strong reason to seek to permanently ban, not increase, the number of concealed firearms on college campuses.
A possible way to combat the threat of isolated acts of on-campus shooting violence is not the proliferation of concealed carry, but an increase in the number of armed, professional security officers on college campuses. This way, students would clearly be able to differentiate who among them is armed: experienced security officers, not the classmate sitting next to them. Simply out of concern for self-preservation, pro-concealed carriers may wish to consider what happen if a campus security officer responds to a shooting and sees two active shooters – how is he or she to know which is the “good guy” and which is the “bad guy”?
Lastly, it is important to recognize the fundamental issue at the heart of tragedies, such as the UCC shooting: gun control in America is either a failure or completely non-existent. The fact that we have to seriously consider the insertion of more guns into more settings, rather than thinking about how to make the instruments that put the bullets into massacred students’ bodies harder to get in the first place, warns of a society damagingly astray from mainstream global thought and policy. Continued failure to address the root of the tragedies will lead us to see more shootings – no matter if concealed carry on college campuses ever sees fruition.