Back to School Means Back to Debate Over Concealed Guns on Campus

By Lauren Morency DePhillips
Lauren Morency DePhillips
Lauren Morency DePhillips
August 29, 2013 Updated: August 29, 2013

Imagine a classroom in which students are unaware if their professors or peers are armed. As students from all over the country settle back into the swing of college life, the debate on whether to allow concealed carry of firearms on college campuses will likely be a hot topic. 

Though six years have passed, many have not forgotten the Virginia Tech shootings, resulting in deaths of 32 people, or the following year’s shooting at Northern Illinois University, in which 22 people were shot and 5 died. Horrific events such as these haunt survivors, and resonate with those who wish to see guns banned from campuses.

The Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus has collected signatures from 365 colleges, universities, and other institutions from 41 states. 

Additionally, many college presidents have signed open letters opposing gun possession on college campuses, but not gun ownership itself. 

College Presidents for Gun Safety issued an open letter, which read, “Among the world’s 23 wealthiest countries, 80 percent of all gun deaths occur in the United States and 87 percent of all children killed with guns are killed here. In 2010, 2,694 young people were killed by gunfire. The victims of homicide totaled 1,773; 67 were elementary school-age children. If those children and teens were alive today, they would fill 108 classrooms of 25 each.”

According to co-signers Lawrence M. Schall, president of Oglethorpe University and Elizabeth Kiss, president Agnes Scott College, both in Georgia, “The time has long since passed for silence and inaction on the issue of reasonable and rational gun safety legislation.”

College presidents from around the country signed the letter.

Gun ownership is protected by the Second Amendment, which organizations such as the National Rifle Association consistently seek to protect by opposing legislation or policies restricting gun control. 

Currently, policies on the concealed carrying of firearms are up to each institution to decide, since there is no federal legislation on the matter.

Currently 22 states ban carrying concealed weapons on college campuses. However, The National Conference of State Legislators reported that 19 states introduced legislation to allow for concealed carry on campus, and two bills passed.

The NRA supports Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. It advocates for college students’ right to carry a weapon on campus. 

Survivors of shootings, friends and relatives of gun violence victims, and students who oppose guns on campuses have protested the idea. Those protesters do not find any reassurance in the prospect of their fellow students being armed. 

Colin Goddard survived being shot four times during the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. He graduated in 2008 and works at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. In a video on the website of Gun Free Kids, he said he opposes guns on campus. “People ask me a lot if I had a gun, would I have shot Cho, and ended it … it’s not like the movies.”

Guns are widespread in the United States. 

The Children’s Defense Fund reported that the U.S. military has 400 million guns at its disposal, with civilians not far behind with 310 million, almost one gun for every person in America.

Lauren Morency DePhillips
Lauren Morency DePhillips