Common Arguments Against Campus Carry

Guns on campus would lead to an escalation in violent crime.
Guns on campus would lead to an increased number of suicides by college students.
Guns on campus would distract from the learning environment.
Colleges are too crowded to safely allow the carry of concealed weapons.
A person with a gun could “snap” and go on a killing spree.
A dangerous person might jump someone who is carrying a gun, take the gun, and use it to do harm.
Dorms are notoriously vulnerable to theft. It would be too easy for someone to steal an unattended firearm from a dorm.
It’s possible a gun might go off by accident.
It’s unlikely that allowing concealed carry on college campuses could help prevent a Virginia Tech-style massacre becase most college students are too young to obtain a concealed handgun license.
Colleges are emontionally volatile environments. Allowing guns on campus will turn classroom debates into crime scenes.
The college lifestyle is defined by alcohol and drug abuse. Why would any sane person want to add guns to that mix?
In an active shooter scenario like the one that occurred at Virginia Tech, a student or faculty member with a gun would only make things worse.
The job of defending campuses against violent attacks should be left to the professionals.
Police officers typically spend four to five months in training; whereas, concealed handgun license holders usually spend one day or less.
How are first responders supposed to tell the difference between armed civillians and armed assailants.
A Taser is as effective as a handgun against an armed assailant.
Defense Spray is as effective as a handgun against an armed assailant.
Self-defense training is as effective as a handgun against an armed assailant.
Some states allow citizens to be issued concealed handgun licenses at the age of eighteen.
It is inconceivable that any logical person would believe the answer to violence is more guns.
The answer to bullets flying is not more bullets flying.
The answer to school violence is prevention, not guns on campus.
School shootings are very rare, and college campuses are statistically very safe. There is no need to allow concealed carry on campus.
Some professors might be afraid to issue bad grades if they know that students could be carrying guns.
The last thing we need is a bunch of vigilantes getting into a shootout with a madman, particularly since it’s been proven that trained police officers have an accuracy rate of only 15%-20% in the field.

Related Documents

Why Our Campuses are NOT safer without Concealed Handguns
Empty Holsters on Campus: P.C. leaves innocents defenseless (Washington Times op-ed)
SCCC Campus Handout
Facts about Concealed Carry (excerpt from www.gunfacts.info)
NRA-ILA “Right to Carry 2008″ Fact Sheet

Responses to Common Arguments

Return to Arguments – Guns on campus would lead to an escalation in violent crime.

Since the fall semester of 2006, state law has allowed licensed individuals to carry concealed handguns on the campuses of the nine degree-offering public colleges (20 campuses) and one public technical college (10 campuses) in Utah. Concealed carry has been allowed at Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO) since 2003 and at Blue Ridge Community College (Weyers Cave, VA) since 1995. After allowing concealed carry on campus for a combined total of one hundred semesters, none of these twelve schools has seen a single resulting incident of gun violence (including threats and suicides), a single gun accident, or a single gun theft. Likewise, none of the forty ‘right-to-carry’ states has seen a resulting increase in gun violence since legalizing concealed carry, despite the fact that licensed citizens in those states regularly carry concealed handguns in places like office buildings, movie theaters, grocery stores, shopping malls, restaurants, churches, banks, etc. Numerous studies*, including studies by University of Maryland senior research scientist John Lott, University of Georgia professor David Mustard, engineering statistician William Sturdevant, and various state agencies, show that concealed handgun license holders are five times less likely than non-license holders to commit violent crimes.

“Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns,” John Lott and David Mustard, Journal of Legal Studies (v.26, no.1, pages 1-68, January 1997);

“An Analysis of the Arrest Rate of Texas Concealed Handgun License Holders as Compared to the Arrest Rate of the Entire Texas Population,” William E. Sturdevant, September 1, 2000; Florida Department of Justice statistics, 1998; Florida Department of State,

“Concealed Weapons/Firearms License Statistical Report,” 1998; Texas Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Census Bureau, reported in San Antonio Express-News, September 2000; Texas Department of Corrections data, 1996-2000, compiled by the Texas State Rifle Association

Return to Arguments – Guns on campus would lead to an increased number of suicides by college students.

Studies* show that 90% of suicides are committed in the home. Because most college students over the age of twenty-one (the minimum age to obtain a concealed handgun license in most states) live off campus, allowing concealed carry on college campuses would have very little impact on the ability of college students to possess firearms in their homes and, therefore, little to no impact on the overall number of suicides by college students.

*“Youth and Adolescent Suicide: A Guide for Educators,” Oregon Resiliency Project, University of Oregon, 2003; After Suicide: A Ray of Hope for Those Left Behind, Eleanora Betsy Ross, 2001

NOTE: At the University of Texas—a major university with over 50,000 students—a quick comparison of campus housing statistics and concealed handgun licensing statistics reveals that there would likely be no more than ten to twenty concealed handgun license holders living in on-campus housing

Return to Arguments – Guns on campus would distract from the learning environment.

Ask anyone in a ‘right to carry’ state when he or she last noticed another person carrying a concealed handgun. The word ‘concealed’ is there for a reason. Concealed handguns would no more distract college students from learning than they currently distract moviegoers from enjoying movies or office workers from doing their jobs.

“In most states with ‘shall-issue’ concealed carry laws, the rate of concealed carry is about 1%. That means that one person out of 100 is licensed to carry a concealed handgun. Therefore, statistically speaking, a packed 300-seat movie theater contains three individuals legally carrying concealed handguns, and a shopping mall crowded with 1,000 shoppers contains ten individuals legally carrying concealed handguns. Students who aren’t too afraid to attend movies or go shopping and who aren’t distracted from learning by the knowledge that a classmate might be illegally carrying a firearm shouldn’t be distracted from learning by the knowledge that a classmate might be legally carrying a firearm.”

Return to Arguments – Colleges are too crowded to safely allow the carry of concealed weapons.

Colleges are no more crowded than movie theaters, office buildings, shopping malls, and numerous other locations where concealed handgun license holders are already allowed to carry concealed handguns. The widespread passage of shall-issue concealed carry laws has not led to spates of shootings or gun thefts at those locations.

Return to Arguments – A person with a gun could “snap” and go on a killing spree.

Contrary to popular myth, most psychiatric professionals agree that the notion of a previously sane, well-adjusted person simply ‘snapping’ and becoming violent is not supported by case evidence. A Secret Service study* into school shootings concluded that school shooters do not simply snap and that a person’s downward spiral toward violence is typically accompanied by numerous warning signs.

*“Safe School Initiative: An Interim Report on the Prevention of Targeted Violence in Schools,” U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education with support from the National Institute of Justice, Co-Directors Bryan Vossekuil, Marissa Reddy PhD, Robert Fein PhD, October 2000

Return to Arguments – A dangerous person might jump someone who is carrying a gun, take the gun, and use it to do harm.

Even assuming that this hypothetical dangerous person knew that an individual was carrying a concealed handgun, which is unlikely, there are much easier ways for a criminal to acquire a firearm than by assaulting an armed individual.

Return to Arguments – Dorms are notoriously vulnerable to theft. It would be too easy for someone to steal an unattended firearm from a dorm.

The vulnerability of dorms to theft does not necessitate a campus-wide ban on concealed carry by licensed individuals. There are numerous other options, from community gun lockups to small, private gun safes that can be secured to walls, floors, bed frames, etc.

NOTE: On most college campuses very few students of legal age to obtain a concealed handgun license still live in dorms. Even at the University of Texas—a major university with over 50,000 students—a quick comparison of campus housing statistics and concealed handgun licensing statistics reveals that there would likely be no more than ten to twenty concealed handgun license holders living in on-campus housing.

Return to Arguments – It’s possible a gun might go off by accident.

Accidental discharges are very rare—particularly because modern firearms feature multiple safety features and because a handgun’s trigger is typically not exposed when it is concealed—and only a small fraction of accidental discharges result in injury. SCCC feels that it is wrong to deny citizens a right simply because that right is accompanied by a negligible risk.

NOTE: Only about 2% of all firearm-related deaths in the U.S. are accidental, and most of those are hunting accidents and accidents involving firearms being openly handled in an unsafe manner. A person is five times more likely to accidentally drown, five times more likely to accidentally die in a fire, 29 times more likely to die in an accidental fall, and 32 times more likely to die from accidental poisoning than to die from an accidental gunshot wound.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: The accidental discharge that occurred in the cockpit of a U.S. Airways jet, on March 22, 2008, occurred during the application of a poorly designed trigger lock, which FAA regulations require be in place during landing.

Return to Arguments – It’s unlikely that allowing concealed carry on college campuses could help prevent a Virginia Tech-style massacre becase most college students are too young to obtain a concealed handgun license.

Nineteen of the thirty-two victims of the Virginia Tech massacre were over the age of twenty-one (the minimum age to obtain a concealed handgun license in Virginia and most other states).

Return to Arguments – Colleges are emontionally volatile environments. Allowing guns on campus will turn classroom debates into crime scenes.

Before shall-issue concealed carry laws were passed throughout the United States, opponents claimed that such laws would turn disputes over parking spaces and traffic accidents into shootouts. This did not prove to be the case. The same responsible adults—age twenty-one and above—now asking to be allowed to carry their concealed handguns on college campuses are already allowed to do so virtually everywhere else. They clearly do not let their emotions get the better of them in other environments; therefore, no less should be expected of them on college campuses.

Return to Arguments – The college lifestyle is defined by alcohol and drug abuse. Why would any sane person want to add guns to that mix?

This is NOT a debate about keeping guns out of the hands of college students. Allowing concealed carry on college campuses would not change the rules about who can buy a gun or who can obtain a concealed handgun license. Every state that provides for legalized concealed carry has statutes prohibiting license holders from carrying while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Legalizing concealed carry on college campuses would neither make it easier for college students to obtain firearms nor make it legal for a person to carry a firearm while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Allowing concealed carry on college campuses would have no impact on the laws regulating concealed carry at bars and off-campus parties, the places where students (particularly students of legal age to obtain a concealed handgun license) are most likely to consume alcohol.

Return to Arguments – In an active shooter scenario like the one that occurred at Virginia Tech, a student or faculty member with a gun would only make things worse.

What is worse than allowing an execution-style massacre to continue uncontested? How could any action with the potential to stop or slow a deranged killer intent on slaughtering victim after victim be considered ‘worse’ than allowing that killer to continue undeterred? Contrary to what the movies might have us believe, most real-world shootouts last less than ten seconds*. Even the real Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, a shootout involving nine armed participants and a number of bystanders, lasted only about thirty seconds and resulted in only three fatalities. It is unlikely that an exchange of gunfire between an armed assailant and an armed citizen would last more than a couple of seconds before one or both parties were disabled. How could a couple of seconds of exchanged gunfire possibly be worse than a ten-minute, execution-style massacre?

*In The Line of Fire: Violence Against Law Enforcement, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Institute of Justice, 1997

Return to Arguments – The job of defending campuses against violent attacks should be left to the professionals.

Nobody is suggesting that concealed handgun license holders be charged with the duty of protecting campuses. What is being suggested is that adults with concealed handgun licenses be allowed to protect themselves on college campuses, the same way they’re currently allowed to protect themselves in most other unsecured locations. According to a U.S. Secret Service study* into thirty-seven school shootings, ‘Over half of the attacks were resolved/ended before law enforcement responded to the scene. In these cases the attacker was stopped by faculty or fellow students, decided to stop shooting on his own, or killed himself.’ The study found that only three of the thirty-seven school shootings researched involved shots being fired by law enforcement officers.

*“Safe School Initiative: An Interim Report on the Prevention of Targeted Violence in Schools,” U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education with support from the National Institute of Justice, Co-Directors Bryan Vossekuil, Marissa Reddy PhD, Robert Fein PhD, October 2000

Return to Arguments – Police officers typically spend four to five months in training; whereas, concealed handgun license holders usually spend one day or less.

Police officers do not spend four to five months learning to carry concealed handguns for self-defense; they spend four to five months learning to be police officers. Concealed handgun license holders are not police officers; therefore, they have no need of most of the training received by police officers. Concealed handgun license holders don’t need to know how to drive police cars at high speeds or how to kick down doors or how to conduct traffic stops or how to make arrests or how to use handcuffs. And concealed handgun license holders definitely don’t need to spend weeks memorizing radio codes and traffic laws.

“Contrary to what some opponents of concealed carry might claim, concealed handgun license holders don’t need extensive tactical training because they are not charged with protecting the public—It’s not their job to act like amateur, one-man SWAT teams. All a concealed handgun license holder needs to know is how to use his or her concealed handgun to stop an immediate threat of death or serious bodily harm, and that type of training CAN be accomplished in a few hours.”

NOTE: In some states, such as Texas, the shooting test for a concealed handgun license differs very little from the annual re-qualification test for police officers.

Return to Arguments – How are first responders supposed to tell the difference between armed civillians and armed assailants.

This hasn’t been an issue with concealed handgun license holders in other walks of life for several reasons. First and foremost, real-world shootouts are typically localized and over very quickly. It’s not realistic to expect police to encounter an ongoing shootout between assailants and armed civilians. Second, police are trained to expect both armed bad guys AND armed good guys—from off-duty/undercover police officers to armed civilians—in tactical scenarios. Third, concealed handgun license holders are trained to use their firearms for self-defense. They are not trained to run through buildings looking for bad guys. Therefore, the biggest distinction between the armed assailants and the armed civilians is that the armed civilians would be hiding with the crowd, and the armed assailants would be shooting at the crowd.

Return to Arguments – A Taser is as effective as a handgun against an armed assailant.

If you’re going to attempt to use a Taser to defend yourself against an armed assailant, you’d better hope the assailant isn’t wearing thick clothing or standing more than fifteen feet away. You’d also better hope that you don’t miss with your first shot and that you aren’t facing more than one assailant. And you’d better hope that you can escape to safety before the Taser’s effects wear off. Like handguns, Tasers are banned on most college campuses.

Return to Arguments – Defense Spray is as effective as a handgun against an armed assailant.

If you’re going to attempt to use a defense spray to defend yourself against an armed assailant, you’d better hope you bought one of the concentrated formulas that doesn’t take ten to fifteen seconds to begin working. You’d also better hope that the assailant is standing in close proximity to you and that you are in a well-ventilated location where you won’t find yourself overcome by the effects of the spray before you can escape to safety. Like handguns, defense sprays are banned on most college campuses.

Return to Arguments – Self-defense training is as effective as a handgun against an armed assailant.

If you’re going to try to manually disarm an assailant, you’d better be within an arm’s length of the assailant, be standing on firm ground, have no obstacles between you and the assailant, and be in relatively good physical condition. If the assailant is standing four feet away, you’re probably out of luck. If you’re sitting in a chair or lying on the floor, you’re probably out of luck. If there is a desk between you and the assailant, you’re probably out of luck. And if you’re elderly or disabled, you’re probably out of luck. Even a well-trained martial arts expert is no match for a bullet fired from eight feet away. Why should honest, law abiding citizens be asked to undergo years of training in order to master an inferior method of self-defense?

Return to Arguments – Some states allow citizens to be issued concealed handgun licenses at the age of eighteen.

Among the thirty-six shall-issue’ states*—states where local authorities cannot require qualified applicants to “show a need” before the applicant is issued a concealed handgun license/concealed carry weapons permit—six states allow, without special provision, for any qualified person eighteen years or older to be issued a concealed handgun license. These states are Indiana, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

“Based on the FBI/Department of Justice violent crime statistics for the year 2006, the crime rates for these seven states, when ranked with all fifty states and the District of Columbia, rank as follows:

Indiana – 30
Montana – 42
South Dakota – 47
New Hampshire – 48
North Dakota – 50
Maine – 51

“Not only are Maine, North Dakota, New Hampshire, and South Dakota four of the five** U.S. states with the lowest crime rates, Montana has the tenth lowest crime rate, and Indiana isn’t even in the top 50%. Clearly, these states’ lenient concealed handgun laws are not breeding generations of young violent offenders. “The extraordinarily low crime rates in these six states, coupled with the fact that these states have a combined population of only about 10,900,000 (approximately 1.6 million less than the combined population of America’s two largest cities—New York, NY, and Los Angeles, CA—and at approximately 1/3 the combined violent crime rate of those two cities) has led Students for Concealed Carry on Campus to focus on the majority of ‘shall-issue’ states where the minimum age to receive a concealed handgun license is twenty-one.”

*Alaska (licenses are offered but not required to carry a concealed handgun), Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming

**Vermont is ranked at 49—the third least violent state. Vermont neither requires nor offers a license to carry a concealed handgun.

Return to Arguments – It is inconceivable that any logical person would believe the answer to violence is more guns.

One might have just as easily told Edward Jenner, the man who discovered in the late eighteenth century that the cowpox virus could be used to inoculate people against smallpox, ‘It is inconceivable that any logical person would believe that the answer to disease is more viruses.

Return to Arguments – The answer to bullets flying is not more bullets flying.

Actually, the answer to bullets flying is almost always more bullets flying. That’s why the police bring so many guns with them when they respond to a report of ‘shots fired.’

Return to Arguments – The answer to school violence is prevention, not guns on campus.

Prevention and preparedness are not mutually exclusive. In a perfect system, the two approaches to safety compliment each other. Preventive measures, such as teaching students and faculty to watch for the warning signs of mental illness and providing counseling to disturbed students, can work hand in hand with preparative measures, such as developing campus alert systems, providing additional training to campus police, and allowing the same trained, licensed adults who legally carry concealed handguns when not on college campuses to do so on college campuses.

Return to Arguments – School shootings are very rare, and college campuses are statistically very safe. There is no need to allow concealed carry on campus.

Though statistically safer than other comparable locations, college campuses play host to every type of violence found in the rest of society, from murder to assault to rape. The statistics suggest that allowing concealed carry on campus won’t hurt and might help; therefore, there is no legitimate reason not to allow it. A free society does not deny the people a right unless there is empirical evidence that granting that right will do more harm than good.

Return to Arguments – Some professors might be afraid to issue bad grades if they know that students could be carrying guns.

Why should professors be more afraid of issuing bad grades to students who want to carry guns LEGALLY than of issuing bad grades to students who might already be carrying guns ILLEGALLY? College campuses are open environments—they don’t have controlled points of entry, metal detectors, or X-ray machines. In light of the fact that a person unconcerned with violating the rules can walk onto a college campus carrying pretty much anything he or she chooses, some professors might feel more comfortable about issuing bad grades if they knew they were allowed the means to defend themselves.

Return to Arguments – The last thing we need is a bunch of vigilantes getting into a shootout with a madman, particularly since it’s been proven that trained police officers have an accuracy rate of only 15%-20% in the field.

Citizens with concealed handgun licenses are not vigilantes. They carry their concealed handguns as a means of getting themselves out of harm’s way, not as an excuse to go chasing after bad guys. Whereas police shooting statistics involve scenarios such as pursuits down dark alleys and armed standoffs with assailants barricaded inside buildings, most civilian shootings happen at pointblank range. In the Luby’s Cafeteria massacre, the Columbine High School massacre, and the Virginia Tech massacre, the assailants moved slowly and methodically, shooting their victims from very close range. A person doesn’t have to be a deadeye shot to defend himself or herself against an assailant standing only a few feet away.