Point of View - No Guns on Campus

Please, no guns on NC campuses

The News & Observer noted on January 15 that state legislators plan to revisit the question of allowing holders of concealed weapons permits working at state colleges to bring handguns to their classes.

What a terrible idea!

1.     Most U.S. campuses prohibit guns.  The overwhelming majority of the more than 4,300 colleges and universities in the United States wisely prohibit students, faculty and visitors from carrying concealed handguns on campus.

2.     Mistakes are likely.  The Violence Policy Center reminds us that when police officers fire their weapons, they sometimes make fatal mistakes in deciding when deadly force is justified. Teachers will not likely perform any better.  Moreover, the close quarters of a classroom may make it even more difficult for teachers to effectively use deadly force against an assailant. There is no credible evidence to suggest that the presence of students carrying concealed weapons would reduce violence on our campuses.
3.     Administrative costs.  It also would be a huge burden for school districts, individual schools, and teachers to ensure that firearms are not lost or stolen:
4.     Faculty and Students don’t want guns on campus.  The Kansas City Star has noted that polling of faculty and students has consistently shown widespread opposition to guns on campuses. Professors worry that a student upset by a grade could become a lethal threat. Resident assistants shudder to consider trying to manage routine disputes between students when someone might be armed.
5.     Suicide risk would increase: Student body organizations have wisely raised the prospect of increased suicides as the stresses of the college years mix with alcohol and ready access to a handgun.
6.     Workplace homicides are more likely.  A North Carolina study published in the American Journal of Public Health 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. This 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.

7.     Prevention is key. The focus should remain on preventing guns from getting into schools, rather than relying on teachers or other education professionals to prevail in a shoot-out.

These arguments are backed by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, who have released a study that argues the campus-carry movement is based on flawed assumptions about the relationship between civilian gun use, violent crime and mass shootings, including several killings on college campuses. The higher likelihood for college-aged people to engage in reckless behavior — binge drinking, drug use, fighting, suicide — heightens the danger, they said.

"Increasing gun availability in campus environments could make far more common acts of aggression, recklessness or self-harm more deadly and, thus, have a deleterious impact on the safety of students, faculty and staff," they wrote in a report published by the university's Bloomberg School of Public Health.

These days, it's hard to get college presidents, students and campus police to agree on much. But on this issue the message is clear: Bullets and backpacks don't mix.  Clearly, a terrible idea!

Jerry VanSant

Chapel Hill, NC

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