Amanda Collins was walking back to her car after a late night midterm at the University of Nevada, Reno. You would think that having a second degree black belt in tae kwon do would give you the idea that you could handle yourself in a difficult situation. Unless that difficult situation happens to be a six foot man with a gun pointed at your head. Amanda Collins was raped that night and there was no way she could defend herself even with a black belt in tae kwon do.
How could something like this have been prevented? Amanda had acquired a concealed carry permit for her gun, but the University of Nevada had not allowed concealed weapons to be carried on campus. This entire predicament could have been averted had Collins been allowed to carry her gun onto campus to defend herself when the need arose. So what needs to change in order to prevent crimes like this on other college campuses? I believe that college campuses would be safer and better prepared to prevent crimes by allowing students, faculty and administration to carry concealed weapons.
By allowing concealed weapons onto campus, it will provide a way for students to defend themselves from attacks and it will help prevent crimes such as Amanda Collins’s. By not allowing students and other campus attendees to carry concealed weapons on campus is in violation of the Second Amendment of the Constitution which states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”. The Second Amendment allows everyone the right to have guns.
Some claim that this right of having guns is only connected with you having to be in a militia. In 2008 it was decided by the Supreme Court, in the court case known as District of Columbia v. Heller, that “the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia” and to “possess a gun in the home for self defense” (Kiehl 1173). With the dangers surrounding the possibilities of attacks at college campuses, we should be able to defend ourselves more than just at home.
Criminals are not the ones who follow the laws, law abiding citizens do. So how can the law abiding citizens defend themselves from a criminal gunman who is not in their home? In response to the Virginia Tech shooting, Michael Guzman, a former Marine, said “It just hit me how desensitized my generation has become about such a horrific thing and how defenseless I would be if something like that happened at my school” (Jost). People need to be allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus so they can defend themselves.
John Adams perhaps said it best when he stated, “resistance to sudden violence, for the preservation not only of my person, my limbs and life, but of my property, is an indisputable right of nature which I have never surrendered to the public by the compact of society, and which perhaps, I could not surrender if I would” (Adams 438). The benefits of having concealed weapons on campus are numerous. The students and faculty will be able to defend themselves in any attempt another gunman might make at a college campus.
The Department of Education reported that “from 2005 to 2007, more than 100 murders, 16,000 assaults and 10,000 forcible sexual assaults were reported on college campuses – amounting to an average of more than nine sexual assaults a day” (Department of Education). And those are only the ones that are reported. There may be more assaults and rapes than we know about. Students and faculty are very vulnerable on college campuses by not having very practical ways of defending themselves.
David Burnett, head and founder of the Students for Concealed Carry on Campus foundation says that “when colleges deny students of the constitutional rights to carry firearms, they create ‘defense free’ zones, where evil can prey with impunity” (Burnett). Concealed weapons on the campus of Virginia Tech are also not allowed but that did not stop a deranged young man to shoot more than 30 people and wound 15 more (Horman). All of this happened because this campus had not allowed guns to be carried onto school grounds.
How differently might have events turned out if students had been allowed to carry guns? How hard is it to understand that just claiming you college campus is “gun-free” or “defense free” will stop a killer? Quite frankly, no, it will not stop a killer from bringing his guns to a college campus. If anything encourages a criminal more to commit a crime would be having the knowledge that a certain college campus does not allow guns. “Twenty-two states ban carrying a concealed weapon on a college campus, while only one state (Utah) currently explicitly allows it.
Twenty-five states let each college or university make the decision. In 2011, two state legislatures considered, but did not pass, bills to prohibit concealed weapons on campus” (Liu 9). Criminals can walk on campus knowing that no one will be carrying guns because they would be breaking the law. Thomas Jefferson once said “laws that forbid the carrying of arms… disarm only those who are neither inclined or determined to commit crimes … for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man” (Save The Guns).
Just having criminals know that a college campus allows students to carry concealed weapons would be a major deterrent for them to actually commit a crime and another major benefit to carry concealed weapons on campus. Anyone who is going to attempt any sort of crime will usually overlook the places with the most security or the place where their plans will most likely not succeed. A 1982 survey of male felons across eleven state prisons in America found that 34 percent of those criminals had been scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim.
Further study showed that at least 40 percent of the criminals said that they had decided not to commit a crime because they knew or believed that the victim carried a gun (Agresti). National Rifle Association Board of Directors Scott L. Bach talks about the town of Kennesaw, Georgia, in which there was an ordinance requiring that each home be in the possession of at least one firearm at all times. As a result of the ordinance, home burglaries in the city dropped by a huge 80 percent (Bach).
If college campuses permitted carrying concealed weapons and made it very well known to the public, there would a significantly less chance that a anyone would attempt anything at that particular campus. Citizens like Gene Rednour agree that “Just the thought of knowing that every student may have a firearm will most likely make someone think twice about going on a killing spree” (USA Today). When seconds count, help is only minutes away. Time is another factor in campus crimes. If there law enforcement needs to be called, it will take some time for them to arrive on the scene.
In that time so many things could happen. In the Virginia Tech shooting the assailant planned ahead of time and chained the doors of where he was located that slowed outside help even more (Horman). You have a killer who has now locked everyone inside a building and he has the only guns. Some studies have shown that “the law enforcement response time is quicker than the four to six minutes it takes the average person to place a 9-1-1 call after an emergency takes place” (LawEnforcement). Is four to six minutes fast enough?
There are numerous things that can happen in that time frame. It is extremely vital that people get emergency care or law enforcement personnel to a specific location as fast as possible or there could be dire consequences. In nine minutes, the Virginia Tech shooter was able to fire “174 shoots, kill 32 people and wound 15 more people” (Burnett). Students and teachers carrying concealed weapons would have a serious chance of fighting back and this becomes a great benefit when law enforcement cannot get to the scene immediately.
Many organizations and foundations believe that concealed weapons should not be allowed onto college campuses. One such organization is the Students for Gun Free Schools. This organization believes that the presence of concealed handguns may “detract from a healthy learning environment”. In order to have a healthy living environment on campus, students should feel safe and not worry about who may or may not be carrying a concealed weapon.
The Students for Gun Free Schools believes in addition to not keeping a healthy learning environment, concealed weapons will only bring additional risks by combining with the existence of alcohol already on campuses. A study completed by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse conducted a survey at Columbia University and found that, “nearly half of America’s 5. 4 million full-time college students abuse drugs or drink alcohol on binges at least once a month”.
Everyone is aware that college students are known for their drinking and added concealed weapons to mix could end up with some really harmful consequences. On the same lines as Students for Gun Free Schools previous statement, they bring to our attention the fact that not everyone is a law abiding citizen. In simpler terms they don’t want to trust just anyone with a gun because you have no idea what they may or may not do with it. They want to prevent people from carrying their guns wherever they want because you cannot trust someone just because they have legally obtained a gun. (Gerdes).
All of these points hold some weight, but when you look at them closely, you can see the holes in their argument as they do not provide enough evidence to support their claims. In opposition the Students for Gun Free Schools organization, other students have formed the Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. The Students for Concealed Carry on Campus promptly issued their own remarks referring to Students for Gun Free Schools statements. The Students for Concealed Carry on Campus believes that having concealed weapons on campus will not detract from a healthy learning environment.
If students are so concerned with knowing if a fellow student or teacher is carrying a gun, would they not be even more cautious outside of campus where concealed guns are legal to carry? Also, doesn’t it take away from students’ feeling of security if they have to worry about being raped, assaulted or murdered on campus? If the Students for Gun Free Schools argument is to say that not knowing who has a concealed weapon on campus is harmful to ones learning environment, than does that same worry not affect off campus as well?
It does not make sense for someone to be worried sick about someone on campus could be carrying a weapon when it is by far easier to obtain a weapon off campus. In response to Students for Gun Free Schools second claim, that the presence of concealed weapons with the presence of alcohol will produce more risks, the Students for Concealed Carry on Campus mentioned that fact that in order to obtain a concealed carry license, you must be 21 years of age or over.
The Task Force on College Drinking conducted a three year study and discovered that 18 through 21 years of age are the years in which students consume the most alcohol. The years of most consumption of alcohol are below the requirement of age that you have to be in order to carry a concealed weapon. While the claim that most concealed carry permit holders are not law-abiding citizens may hold some truth, we need to look at this from another perspective. Are most non-law abiding citizens going to obtain a weapon through legal means? The obvious answer would be no.
Major FBI violent crimes include murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery. Even though I strongly believe that colleges should allow students and faculty to carry concealed weapons, the question really is; can students use guns in self-defense successfully and safely? A great example of this was in South Carolina in 2008 when a military school student scared off a “bat-wielding road rage driver” by brandishing his handgun. This student did not even fire his weapon. All he needed to do was show the assailant his weapon to drive him off.
Another excellent example was in California in 2007 when some University of Southern California students overpowered a man and took away the firearm he possessed and held him at gunpoint until the proper authorities could arrive. The man was becoming increasingly violent and threatening towards a female student at a party and he refused to leave (Gerdes – Students for Concealed Carry on Campus). This shows that students are capable of using weapons to defend themselves properly in situations that call for their self-defense.
As I have made clear, I am strongly in favor of allowing law-abiding citizens to carry registered concealed firearms on a college campus. But is allowing students, faculty, administrators and visitors to carry registered concealed weapons on college campuses the end of the discussion? Would this be a permanent solution to stop crimes on campus? The answer is a resounding no, violent crimes would not end and that is certainly not the end of this argument. Many serious questions remain such as those posed by Dr. Reginald Fennel and Dr.
What if the shooter moved and fired again? What if two or three other people pulled their weapons and showed their faces? Who are you going to shoot at? If you hesitate, one of them is likely to shoot you. Do you really believe that students are better trained than Marines engaging in combat? And to be trusted with weapons? ” (USA Today) These are serious questions that require serious debate and open discussion. At the very least, I believe that concealed-carry permit holders, whether on campus or anywhere else, need to be trained in scenarios such as these.
The main focus should be on knowing certain guidelines when they should or should not respond to an emergency on campus. They need to be taught about their responsibilities as non-law enforcement civilians as well as to how far their rights to carry a concealed weapon really go. Just giving concealed-carry permit holder the right to be on campus with a concealed weapon would not be enough to accomplish having safer college campuses. There would need to be a strict set of rules and guidelines that would need to be followed in order to avoid the aforesaid complications.
For example, if concealed-carry permit holders are indeed allowed to have weapons on campus, they would be required to attend a certain number of hours in training in order to receive important information as to how to act in different situations. The last thing we need is for ten concealed-carry holders to all pull all their weapons guns blazing in the midst of an emergency. This issues of concealed weapons on college campuses is very serious and complex, there are probably other points that I have not even thought of.
However, each issue that is discussed needs to be carefully and closely looked at to determine the best possible outcome. Many would fear that allowing concealed weapons onto college campuses would bring additional fear and risks that are unnecessary. The Second Amendment gives the right to let students, administrators, teachers and visitors to carry their own weapons to satisfy their basic need for self-defense. I believe that the benefits of allowing students and faculty to carry concealed weapons far outweigh the negative aspects as presented by the students for Gun Free Schools.
Students and Faculty will be able to defend themselves should the need arise, they will be able to react quickly because often times it takes time for law enforcement officers to arrive on scene, and the presence of guns on campus will discourage many criminals from attempting any crimes on campuses. I believe that college campuses would be safer and better prepared to prevent crimes by allowing students, faculty and administrators to carry concealed weapons. By allowing concealed onto campus, it will provide a way for students to defend themselves from attacks and it will help prevent crimes.
Crimes such as the one that Amanda Collins had to suffer through could have been averted. Being able to carry concealed weapons on campus may not be a perfect solution to prevent crimes on college campus, but it’s a better start than doing absolutely nothing.
- Adams, Charles F. “The Works of John Adams. ” Boston Gazette [Boston] 5 9 1763, 438. Print
- Agresti, James. , and Reid K. Smith. “Gun Control Facts. ” Just Facts. Just Facts, 08/14/2012. Web. 1 Oct 2012. <http://www. justfacts. com/guncontrol. htm>.