Keep our campuses safe

The NC legislature is reportedly considering legislation to allow employees of state colleges with concealed weapons permits to bring handguns to campus and to classes. (N&O, Jan. 15, 2017) Now, more than ever, we must draw the line against creating an atmosphere for gun violence on our campuses.

Here are just some of the facts:

1. A North Carolina study found that workplaces that allow 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 places where firearms were prohibited.  Workers in gun-permissive environments are more likely to be killed at work.

2.  The Virginia Tech Review Panel, headed by Gerald Massengill, who investigated the 9-11 attacks on the Pentagon along with panel member Tom Ridge, the first Homeland Security Secretary, specifically recommended that “guns be banned on campus grounds and in buildings.”

3.  The International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, Inc. (IACLEA) wrote: “The IACLEA Board of Directors believes ‘conceal carry’ initiatives do not make campuses safer.”

4. Students on college campuses are safer than those off-campus, the US Department of Justice has found.  93% of violent crimes against students take place off campus.

5. On campuses in two states where guns have been allowed, rapes have increased. Colorado’s rate of campus rape increased 25% in 2012 and 36% in 2013, after concealed guns were allowed.  Utah’s campus rape stats increased nearly 50% during those years, after “campus carry” was allowed.

6.  Homicides on US campuses are rare—much rarer than elsewhere in the nation.  The homicide rate at post secondary education campuses was 0.1 per 100,000 of enrollment compared to the US criminal homicide rate of 4.4 per 100,000 in 2013.

7. The presence of weapons does not prevent shootings in public places.  A study by Everytown for Gun Safety found that 16 of the 33 active-shooter incidents occurred in public places where guns could be legally carried. Two more incidents occurred where an armed guard or police were in the immediate vicinity.

8. Students should not have to worry about who is carrying weapons on campus. Their anxiety is great enough.  Depression is a growing and common mental health disorder on college campuses, with campus professionals citing difficult adjustments to life on their own, academic and social pressures. 

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among the college age population nationwide, eclipsed only by vehicular accidents. Of those who commit suicide, two-thirds of the students are depressed at the time of death.

9.  Professional, highly trained law enforcement officials hit their targets 20% of the time.  Untrained personnel, including teachers, are likely to perform much worse and in proximity of students, who become vulnerable to stray shots.

10. Guns do not keep us safe. The US now has more guns than people and has the highest—by far— homicide rates in the developed world. A recent study published in the Journal of American Medicine indicates that Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed with a gun than those in other developed nations. 

The author of the study, Erin Grinshteyn, an assistant professor at the School of Community Health Science at the University of Nevada-Reno, notes "These results are consistent with the hypothesis that our firearms are killing us rather than protecting us."

North Carolinians must stand firm against putting our students at risk due to a gun lobby that continues to fight all efforts to limit gun violence.  Due to a bill passed by the legislature just last year, guns are already allowed in cars on NC public campuses. We must oppose legislation to allow yet more guns on college campuses.

Catherine Alexander

Chapel Hill

 


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