In light of the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois massacres that occurred over two years ago, the subject of firearms and gun violence is sure to bring about a fury of sentiment from lawmakers, students, parents and administrators alike, especially from those who believe that college students should be allowed to bring concealed firearms on campuses in states where concealed carry is legal.
To date, there 48 states that allowed citizens the right to carry concealed weapons; 8 out of the 48 states require proof of need. In those states, 24 college campuses explicitly disallow licensed individuals to bring firearms on school property, and 15 “Right-to-Carry” states allow the schools to make their own regulations; 11 universities, of which, allow concealed carry. The state of Utah is the only state whose legislation has superseded the will of the state schools, which allows students to bring concealed firearms on campus. (SCCC)
Advocates for campus concealed carry believe that violent crime would greatly reduce on school grounds if students are educated, trained and armed with handguns, while others feel that putting loaded weapons in the hands of young adults that drink excessively and share close living quarters would increase crime rates and fear.
Students for Concealed Carry On Campus, a national non-profit, non-partisan organization with over 35,000 members, comprised of students, professors, college staff, parents, solicitous citizens, functions as a medium to educate and “dispel” public notions and fallacies that concealed carry on campus would be a detriment. Rather, they promote campus concealed carry as life saving based on facts and research that they have derived. This group also works to lobby for state legislation supporting concealed carry on college campuses by saying licensed holders should have the same rights on university property as they do in other public places where concealed carry is allowed.
On their website, SCCC proffers an extensive list of facts and rebuttals to common arguments and adversary groups that are quite compelling and convincing. In an article by Suzanne Smalley of Newsweek, W. Scott Lewis, a board member and spokesman for SCCC, maintained that “states with the most relaxed concealed-carry laws also happen to be among the safest.”
Lewis goes on to say in the article that, “Anybody can walk onto a college campus carrying just about anything they please. So what happens is these state laws and these school policies that prohibit concealed carry on college campuses stack the odds in favor of dangerous criminals who have no concern for following the rules.”
However, groups such as Students for Gun Free Schools argue campuses are not safer with concealed handguns. In a report called “Why Our Campuses Are Safer Without Concealed Handguns,” SFGS states
“A 2001 study by the U.S. Department of Education found that the overall homicide rate at postsecondary education institutions was 0.07 per 100,000 of enrollment in 1999.2 By comparison, the criminal homi- cide rate in the United States was 5.7 per 100,000 persons overall in 1999, and 14.1 per 100,000 for per- sons ages 17 to 29. Another study, conducted by the Department of Justice, found that 93% of violent crimes that victimize college students occur off campus.3 This research demonstrates conclusively that students on the campuses of postsecondary institutions are significantly safer than both their off-campus counterparts and the nation as a whole.”
Despite the cannonade of contretemps, the state of Texas may be considering concealed and carry laws on college campuses for the first time. The proposals would allow licensed individuals the right to carry and conceal their weapons on campus at the University of Texas at Austin, sparking loads of controversy and ensuing more rhetoric exchange between lobbyist groups.
Texas Senator Jeff Wentwort (R-25), one of ten that authored Senate Bill 1164, has been a supporter for campus concealed carry laws since Virginia Tech and believes the same thing could happen at Texas. According to an article published by The University Star, a news publication from Texas State University at San Marcos, it was reported that Texas State students will be "testifying before committees in favor of the bills, and an empty holster protest is planned for April.
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