In order to ensure the safety of children, students, and educators, federal and state laws should prohibit guns in schools. Currently, under the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1996, federal law forbids guns on k-12 campuses1. Recently, though, the debate over whether or not guns should be allowed on schools has resurged, raising the possibility of changes in federal and state law. Just last year, Texas debuted it’s campus-carry law that allows anyone 21 and over with a permit to carry concealed weapons on college campuses, sparking intense debate over the safety of guns on campuses.
While anti-gun violence groups assert that guns on campuses are inherently dangerous, are not a reliable method of self-defense, and are likely to be fired accidentally, activists on the other side claim that by allowing teachers and staff to carry loaded weapons, the school will be well-defended against a violent attack.
However, a new study from Johns Hopkins shows that campus carry laws are unlikely to deter school shooters and may in fact lead to more injuries and deaths2. Building on a former FBI study that found that unarmed civilians were far more likely than armed civilians to stop an active shooting in progress, this study found similar results. “There is no reason to believe that college students, faculty, and civilian staff will shoot accurately in active shooter situations when they have only passed minimal training requirements for a permit to carry.” Campus carry could instead lead to more suicides and gun violence. “Research demonstrates that access to firearms substantially increases suicide risks, especially among adolescents and young adults, as firearms are the most common method of lethal self-harm.”
At least six accidental shootings by CCW holders have been reported on K-12 and university, resulting in injuries and chaos.3
- 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
- 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
Overall, allowing loaded guns on campuses is a recipe for disaster. Empirical and anecdotal evidence alike highlight the dangers of guns in schools and on campuses, convincing us that now is the time to fight for common sense gun laws.