The term “campus carry” refers to the licensed, concealed carry of handguns on college campuses. The key words there are “licensed” and “concealed.” There is no movement to let everybody carry guns on campus or to let licensees carry visible handguns—aka “open carry”—on campus.
Even in gun-loving Texas, less than 4% of the population is licensed to carry a handgun. Among Texans of typical college age, the rate is less than 1%. Those license holders, age 21 and above, have passed a training course, a shooting test, and extensive background checks and are authorized to carry guns virtually everywhere else, including at college parties, which almost always take place off campus.
Campus carry is about personal protection, not campus protection. The question isn’t whether it lowers on-campus crime rates or serves as a deterrent to crime; the question is whether there is justification to deny licensees on campus the same measure of self-defense they enjoy at movie theaters, shopping malls, churches, and museums. The question is whether there is a fundamental difference between carrying a gun at a municipal library and carrying a gun at a university library.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, licensees are convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon at 1/7 the rate of unlicensed Texans (NOTE: that statistic includes all Texas children in the number of unlicensed Texans; the contrast is even greater when only adults are counted). The campus carry policy working group at the University of Texas at Austin found no reports of resulting assaults or suicides at campus-carry colleges and reported, “We reached out to 17 research universities in the seven campus-carry states…Most respondents reported that campus carry had not had much direct impact on student life or academic affairs.”
The preponderance of peer-reviewed studies on licensed carry have concluded that it cannot be shown to lead to an increase in violent crime. Furthermore, there is little or no evidence that it negatively impacts free speech in the places where it’s allowed, including more than 100 U.S. college campuses and several state capitols.
Put simply, the evidence strongly suggests that licensed concealed carry will have no detrimental effect on Texas college campuses and that there is no justification to deny licensed students, faculty, staff, or guests on those campuses the same measure of personal protection they enjoy throughout the rest of the state.
SCC’s Feb. 17 – July 18, 2016, Texas press releases: http://www.tinyurl.com/txscc-
All SCC statements regarding the various policies proposed by UT-Austin: http://tinyurl.com/scc-on-ut-