Campus shootings are violent, deadly acts of terrorism that not only affect schools, teachers, and students, but communities as well. The number of these events in 2015 alone is staggering. These acts against the safety of students cannot be tolerated. Government leaders need to make an effort to protect schools and public safety. Allowing college students, teachers, and other adults to carry concealed weapons on campus is a debate that has circulated the nation for years.
Legislators and campus officials have debated in heated public forums topics of safety, constitutional rights, and the effect concealed weapons have on campuses. The debate broke into six basic arguments – three for guns on campus and three against. Both sides have legitimate concerns, neither have come to terms for a compromise. This sample argumentative essay by one of the professional writers from Ultius, looks at some of the pros and cons to try and make sense of this dynamic issue.
Concealed handguns deter crime
Advocates for allowing concealed guns to be carried on campus claim armed students and staff will deter any acts of aggression toward the school. The thought is similar to the Founders reasoning for including the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights – a well-armed militia can defend against first attacks. Lawmakers say students fear for their lives and want a way to defend themselves. Congressman John Enns, Oklahoma State House of Representative (Oklahoma House), advocated for guns on campus. He was one of the first Oklahoma lawmakers to publicly request a law and initially requested a study to determine if passing legislation would be a viable option.
“‘You see, these kids are terrified,’ the Enid Republican said” (Murphy).
Currently, 12 states have passed laws allowing concealed gun carry on campus, including
- Rhode Island
- Virginia (Schwarz)
At least ten more states are considering passing similar laws as of February 2015 (Schwarz). Nevada is considering a similar law based on testimony from a female student who was raped. The student believes her attacker would have fled if she was able to carry on campus. The student has a license to conceal carry in other public places.
“‘It’s moving to hear from a young woman that had a concealed carry and but for a university policy, she was raped,’ Congressman Greg Steube, Florida House of Representatives (Florida House), said. ‘I don’t know if it can get any more compelling than that’” (Schwarz).
Responsible citizens should have the right to arm themselves against criminals
It is likely that violent offenders will always have guns, ignore laws prohibiting their carry and continue to commit violent acts. Supporters for guns on campus say it is better to allow students, teachers, and employees to carry arms rather than becoming victims of violence. The NRA has long rallied against gun control legislation. Reports show concealed handgun carriers feel more secure and safe. This is especially true when going outside at night on college campuses or in dangerous areas. The National Opinion Research Center reported in 2001, 59% of gun carriers arm themselves because it makes them feel safer. The percentage of Florida female gun carriers increased from 15% in 2004 to 23% in 2014 (ProCon.org). These women feel the need to protect themselves from violent offenders, rapists, and other men who are aggressive towards women.
One of these female permit holders stated that women ‘need to be able to defend their home and defend themselves if they go out.’ It’s just a safety issue. In addition, a study by criminologist Gary Kleck, PhD, concluded that ‘robbery and assault victims who used a gun to resist were less likely to be attacked or to suffer an injury than those who used any other methods of self-protection.
Another peer-reviewed criminology study concluded carrying guns is an effective measure to deter violence and crimes (ProCon.org). Published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, researchers learned 55.5% of criminals retreated after the victim produced a handgun. This was concluded to have happened before serious injury occurred.
Permitting concealed handguns increases crime
Supporters for concealed carry on campus may claim guns deter crime, and, while some statistics show this to be true, the opposition has evidence to prove the contrary. First, recent polls suggest college campuses aren’t a breeding ground for violence, as suggested by state legislators. Across the board and with most major parties of interest, groups say they feel safe and secure at campuses; even those at reportedly dangerous locations said they feel secured. In a study conducted by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), faculty members (97%) felt safe on campus, and 94 percent of those teachers opposed on-campus concealed-carry (Reindl and Cocco). The statistics also show an overwhelming support for tight gun control denying concealed carry on campuses:
The majority (78 %) of students were not supportive of concealed handguns on campuses, and 78% claimed that they would not obtain a permit to carry a handgun on campus, if it were legal. Those who perceived more disadvantages to carrying handguns on campus were females who did not own firearms, did not have a firearm in the home growing up, and were not concerned with becoming a victim of crimes. (Pelosi and Johnson)
These employees and students all feel safe and secure, don’t believe guns will save them, and are determined to stop concealed carry through protest, essay writing, and voting. University of Oklahoma President Dan Boren said it would be a devastating mistake to allow students, or anyone for that matter, to carry concealed handguns on campus (Payne) and statistics show they may have good reason to believe they are safer without concealed carry laws. National Bureau of Economic Research reports show that states that passed laws allowing guns to be concealed carried on campus had a slight increase in crime including:
- 2% increase in murder
- 9% increase in rape
- 9% increase in aggravated assault
- 9% increase in robbery
- 9% increase in auto theft
- 9% increase in burglary
- 9% increase in larceny (Reindl and Cocco)
Another study published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology reported:
“homicide rates increased ‘on average by 4.5 per 100,000 persons following the enactment of ‘shall-issue laws’”. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said, “A gun is more likely to be used against you than you use a gun in self-defense” (Reindl and Cocco).
Carrying a concealed handgun increases the chances of a confrontation.
Opponents of concealed carry on campus also say increased crime rates isn’t the only aspect to look at; students are more likely to be hurt or confronted in these situations. The American Journal of Public Health published a report in November 2009 showing this to be true (ProCon.org). The new peer-reviewed study found that:
“someone carrying a gun for self-defense was 4.5 times more likely to be shot during an assault than an assault victim without a gun” (ProCon.org).
These reports are backed up by further studies from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. This organization seeks to lessen the frequency of gun-related violence while still respecting Americans’ 2nd amendment rights. The Law Center reported:
Members of the public who carry guns risk escalating everyday disagreements into public shootouts, especially in places where disputes frequently occur—in bars, at sporting events, or in traffic. (ProCon.org)
One of these examples was with a retired police officer. The officer was permitted to legally carry a concealed handgun and was trained to respond to hostile encounters – but was not immune to violence. He shot and killed another man during an argument over text messaging in a movie theater (ProCon.org). Opponents question whether this will be the rule instead of exception. Law enforcement officers are trained to:
- Negotiate with violent offenders
- Reduce hostility in confrontational situations
- Prevent violent escalations
If they are not able to prevent this from happening, how are untrained college students and teachers, with more emotional attachment to the situation, supposed to prevent a violent episode?
Oklahoma State University
Oklahoma state law requires students and others to obtain a letter of consent from the college or university president to conceal carry on campus (Payne). Carrying on campus may be tied into the gun laws of the specific state where the college is located. When Enns and Sen. Ralph Shortey. Oklahoma Senator for Oklahoma City, proposed bills to allow concealed carry on college campuses for students and faculty regardless of permission, Boren, a former Governor and U.S. Congressman, said:
OSU remains strongly opposed to guns on campus. The people who come to our campus every day — students, faculty and staff — have expressed their opposition as well. We believe guns on campus would create a tension that we don’t need. It’s fraught with risk.
Boren, speaking on behalf of all Oklahoma college and university presidents, said he felt the need for personal protection wasn’t outweighed by the possibility guns would cause more violence with the following:
“I personally feel a strong sense of responsibility for the safety of our students. Placing guns on campus, except in the hands of highly trained law enforcement officers and professionals, would be a serious mistake and only lead to tragic results” (Payne).
Guns will aways be an issue that is surrounded by controversy. Currently, the potential for harm that allowing concealed weapons on college campuses will cause, far outweighs the good it could do. College students are constantly being pulled in numerous directions, living hectic lives, enjoying the last remaining days of their childhood and coping with the stresses of burgeoning adulthood. To inject a deadly weapon such as a gun into that mix is not only foolish, it is legitimately irresponsible. Allowing the right to carry concealed weapons on college campuses is not only a poorly conceived idea, but to either the victim or the assailant, it is a literal death sentence.
Want to express your opinion? Buy an essay from Ultius today to support your argument.
Legal Information Institute (ILL). “Second Amendment.” Cornell University Law School. N.d. Web. 24 March 2016. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/second_amendment.
Payne, Stetson. “Senators, universities at odds about guns on campus.” OColly.com. 15 Feb. 2015. Web. 24 March 2016. http://www.ocolly.com/news/article_3e474dfc-b580-11e4-9faa-ebf1c4d9c899.html.
Pelosi, Andy and John Johnson. “The Important Work of Keeping Guns off Campus.” Public Purpose. American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). Spring 2014. Web. 24 March 2016. http://www.aascu.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=8726.
ProCon.org. “Concealed Guns ProCon.org.” ProCon.org. 8 Feb. 2016. Web. 24 Mar. 2016. http://concealedguns.procon.org/.
Murphy, Sean. “Oklahoma GOP lawmakers push for guns on campuses.” The Washington Times. 8 Oct. 2014. Web. 24 March 2016. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/oct/8/oklahoma-gop-lawmakers-push-for-guns-on-campuses/?page=all.
Reindl, Jade and Jean Cocco. “Say no to guns on college campuses.” CNN. 26 Feb. 2015. Web. 24 March 2016. http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/26/opinion/reindl-cocco-campus-no-guns/.
Schwarz, Alan. “A Bid for Guns on Campuses to Deter Rape.” The New York Times. 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 24 March 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/19/us/in-bid-to-allow-guns-on-campus-weapons-are-linked-to-fighting-sexual-assault.html?_r=0.
SCOTUSBlog.org. “District of Columbia et al. v. Heller.” 26 June 2008. Web. 24 March 2016. http://www.scotusblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/07-290.pdf.