The Right to Carry Concealed on College Campuses

September 28, 2017

Six Georgia professors announced last week that they are seeking an injunction to halt the recently passed concealed-carry law. The battle against the “campus carry” law seems to be embroiled in fear rather than logic, based on emotions rather facts, threatening American’s right to protection in a country where school shootings have claimed more than 300 lives, with over 100 of those occurring on college campuses.

But why allow guns in the hands of college students? They are immature and irresponsible, with higher chances of abusing drugs and alcohol, right? Sure, maybe. I’ve witnessed the effects of inebriated college students first hand at my own university. However, the state of Georgia thinks otherwise. What is most imperative to remember about the concealed campus carry law is that it does not intend to change who can own a gun, rather where a licensed individual—who is 21 years of age or older, has already passed a background check, has been fingerprinted, and been deemed acceptable to own a firearm by the state—can carry their gun.

A law that prevents an individual from bringing a gun to a specific location will not deter them from harming people in the desired location if the individual is looking to inflict harm on others. There is no invisible fence separating on-campus from off-campus. According to a database of mass shootings compiled by Mother Jones magazine, 82% of mass shootings since 1982 were committed with legally obtained guns. Attempting to stop the attacker with location- based laws would, in a way, be a waste of effort. Virginia Tech, the worst mass shooting in United States history, was staunchly opposed to concealed-carry laws. On the other side, according to Economist John R. Lott Jr., states that passed concealed carry laws (between 1977 to 1995) saw an 84% decrease in multiple-victim public shootings.

I have heard my classmates express concerns before that knowing another student has a concealed gun in the classroom would stifle class discussion and make them feel uncomfortable with a constant worry of a massacre waiting to happen. But should that fear be any different than the fear of an individual carrying a gun illegally? And if the concern of a gun in the classroom, whether illegal or not, is still there, consider the study conducted by the Crime Prevention Research Center that found that it is “very rare for permit holders to violate the law,” citing 2.4 out of 100,000.10 permit holders committed firearm violations in Florida and Texas alone.

Until our college campuses are as secure as airports or government buildings, until there are checkpoints at each entryway–metal detectors, or security guards–until students are guaranteed they will not be shot while trying to receive an education, the right to be able to defend and protect oneself from those who want to do harm should be permitted.

To date, the most reprehensible college shootings have occurred on campuses where firearms are strictly prohibited. That’s not to say that allowing concealed guns on campuses is guaranteed to prevent an active shooter situation; rather it would add an extra layer of protection. We should not be at this point, preparing for massacres, but we are, so we must be ready. A concealed gun on a college campus—owned legally, by a responsible owner—could be the difference between a tragedy and a massacre.