The NC General Assembly should not force colleges to allow guns on campus
A new bill introduced to the NC General Assembly would compel colleges to allow “trained” firearm holders to carry their weapons on campus. Supporters of the bill argue that by allowing “good guys” to carry guns, students will be able to defend themselves and their classmates from dangerous attacks. However, research shows that allowing guns on campus does not increase safety, and in fact, can lead to dangerous consequences.
Campus carry does not make campuses safer
- In reality, homicides at American colleges and universities are extremely rare. In 2013, the homicide rate at post secondary institutions was 0.1 per 100,000 of those enrolled. By comparison, the criminal homicide rate in the US was 4.4 per 100,000. 1
- There is no statistical evidence that crime rates have decreased on the public campuses that have passed similar bills. In fact, crime may have gone up—since Colorado allowed campus carry in 2012, the rate of rape has increased from 25% in 2012 to 36% in 2013. 2
- A study from Johns Hopkins shows that campus carry laws are unlikely to deter school shooters and may in fact lead to more injuries and deaths. 3
- An FBI report detailing 160 active shooting incidents from 2000-2013 found that only one shooting was stopped by a CCW permit holder, and he happened to be a Marine. Twenty-one active shooters were stopped by unarmed citizens. 4
Armed students with little or no training pose serious risks
- Concealed Carry Weapon holders are not necessarily well trained, and they may never have even handled a firearm. While North Carolina requires live training in order to acquire a CCW, the state also recognizes permits obtained in states that require little or no training.
- Even those who receive training are likely not prepared for an active shooting situation. ATF agents and members of SWAT teams must perform tactical exercises and qualifications multiple times a year compared to the minimal hours of training for CCW permits.
- A 2006 study of bullet hit rates among large US police departments found that officers only hit their targets approximately 20% of the time, even though officers receive extensive firearms training. 5
The college campus environment creates unique dangers
- The prevalence of alcohol and drugs on college campuses raises many safety concerns when paired with firearms. Over half of America’s 5.4 million full-time college students abuse drugs or alcohol at least once a month, and alcohol is involved in 95% of violent crimes on campus. 6, 7
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college age young adults. Access to firearms is likely to increase the risk of suicide. 8
- Small rooms and frequent visitors, like in college dormitories, increase the likelihood of gun thefts. 9
Armed civilians may confuse law enforcement
- A Virginia Tech Panel Report specifically recommended against guns on campus. “If numerous people had been rushing around with handguns outside Norris Hall on the morning of April 16, 2007, the possibility of accidental or mistaken shootings would have increased significantly. The campus police said the probability would have been high that anyone emerging from a classroom at Norris Hall holding a gun would have been shot.” 10
- Brent Herron, the UNC system’s associate vice president of campus safety and emergency operations, said that in an active-shooter situation, responding officers might have a difficult time distinguishing between the shooter and lawful gun owners. 11
Accidental shootings are a major risk
- At least six accidental shooting by CCW holders have been reported on K-12 and university campuses, resulting in injuries and chaos. 12
- One Utah schoolteacher’s gun accidentally went off in an elementary school bathroom.
- University of Colorado staffer was showing her coworkers her handgun and trying to unjam it when she accidentally fired a bullet that ricocheted and hit another woman.
- An Idaho State University assistant professor with a CCW permit shot himself in the foot with a semiautomatic handgun that accidentally discharged from inside his pocket in a chemistry classroom full of students in September 2014.
- A University of Southern Mississippi student was in critical condition after accidentally shooting himself in the thigh while sitting in his vehicle on campus.
- A student at Tarleton State University in Texas accidentally fired a gun at a campus residence hall.
- A 24-year old student with a concealed carry permit at Webster State University accidentally shot himself in the leg while his gun discharged in his pants pocket. 13
Public opinion is strongly against guns on campus
- 94% of Americans answers no when asked, “Do you think regular citizens should be allowed to bring their guns onto college campuses?” 14
- 79% of students in a 2013 survey said they would not feel safe if concealed weapons were allowed on campus 14
- 94% of faculty in a 2013 survey said they would not feel safe if concealed weapons were allowed on campus 14
Those employed on college campuses could be at greater risk
- A North Carolina study found that workplaces allowing workers to carry firearms and other weapons at work were 5-7 times more likely to be the site of an on-the-job homicide compared to workplaces that prohibited workers from carrying weapons. 15
- The NC study confirms that just as residents of households with guns are more likely to become a victim of a homicide in the home, workers who work in places that allow guns are more likely to be killed while at work.
1 Clery Act Data (US Department of Education) and FBI Uniform Crime Reports 2013
2 IACLEA, Concealed Carrying of Firearms Proposals on College Campuses
3 John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, College Campuses: Research Evidence and Policy Implication at http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-center-for-gun-policy-and-research/_pdfs/GunsOnCampus.pdf
4 US Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation, A Student of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013
5 Morrison, G. B. Deadly Force Programs Among Larger US Police Departments at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1098611105276542
6 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, College Drinking at http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/CollegeFactSheet/CollegeFactSheet.pdf
7 Columbia University Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Rethinking Rites of Passage: Substance Abuse on America’s Campuses at https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED371681
8 M. Clinton, College Campuses Grapple with Escalating Suicide Rates at www.nearwestgazette.com
9 Students for Gun Free Schools, Why Our Campuses are Safer Without Concealed Handguns at http://www.studentsforgunfreeschools.org/SGFSWhyOurCampuses-Electronic.pdf
10 Virginia Tech Review Panel at https://governor.virginia.gov/media/3772/fullreport.pdf
11 T. Keung Hui, Bill would allow concealed carry guns on UNC, community college campuses. The Charlotte Observer at http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article136249908.html
12 Crime Research Prevention Center, Accidental Shootings on K12 and University Property by Permit Holders at http://crimeresearch.org/2017/02/accidental-shootings-on-k-12-and-university-property-by-permit-holders/
14 M. Ransfrom, Most Students don’t want guns on their campuses at http://cms.bsu.edu/news/articles/2013/9/students-say-no-to-concealed-weapons-on-campus
15 Loomis, Marshall, and Ta. Employer Policies Toward guns and the Risk of Homicide in the Workplace. American Journal of Public Health. 2005; 95:830-832.