95% of College Presidents Don’t Want Guns on Campus

More than 3 in 4 students don’t want them either.

An overwhelming majority of college and university presidents want to keep their campuses gun free, says a new study from Ball State University.

“University Presidents’ Perceptions and Practice Regarding the Carrying of Concealed Handguns on College Campuses” found that about 95% of respondents opposed allowing concealed handguns on campus and about 91% cited accidental shootings of fellow students as the greatest disadvantage of allowing concealed weapons.

“Currently available data indicates that college campuses are one of the safest places in communities for college-age students, and college leaders want to keep it that way,” study co-author Jagdish Khubchandani, a member of Ball State’s Global Health Institute and a community health education professor in the university’s Department of Physiology and Health Science. The research team also included faculty from University of Toledo in Ohio.

College campuses have traditionally been gun-free zones, but recent, rare mass shootings on campuses and lobbying from pro-firearm groups have led to political pressures to permit concealed firearms on college campuses, Khubchandani said.

“It is not surprising, given the common law legal implications and safety concerns of college campuses, that the vast majority of college presidents were opposed to a policy permitting concealed carrying of handguns on campus,” he said. “The presidents’ views seem to be in line with their students. In 2013, we found that 78% of college students at 15 Midwestern schools were strongly opposed to having guns on campus.”

Researchers surveyed 401 college chief executives and found that 79% did not own a firearm while 57% grew up in a home without a gun. About 5% of presidents had a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun.

The study, which was recently published by the Journal of American College Health, also found:

  • About 65% of respondents were against allowing concealed handguns off campus.
  • About 98% of the presidents thought students and faculty felt safe on their campuses. Additionally, 92% said most faculty and students would feel unsafe if faculty, students and visitors carried concealed handguns.
  • Nearly 81% said they did not avoid places around campuses out of concern for their safety.
  • Seven percent reported a crime on their campus in the past year where the perpetrator used a firearm

When the presidents were asked about standards to carry a concealed handgun, they thought a person should be required to pass a firearms training course (88%), periodically practice at a firing range to maintain their skills (87%) and show proof of a minimum of liability insurance in case the shooter wounded or killed an innocent person (86%).

An examination found the five most common campus safety measures were: identifying and referring potentially violent students (91%), mass text alerts (91%), active shooter plan (85%), campus police presence (82%) and video cameras (77%). However, less than half of the presidents indicated either their faculty (45%) or their student body (38%) was trained to respond to an active shooter on campus.

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About the Author

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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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