Concealed Guns on Campus Draws 64% Opposition

Published: August 24, 2009

Nearly two-thirds of campus safety personnel oppose arming students, professors or staff, according to Campus Safety magazine’s July/August survey.

Of the 58 percent of higher-education respondents to the survey – the others work for hospitals or K-12 districts – 64 percent of that group say they do not support concealed carry for non-law enforcement. Even the majority of supporters from colleges (22 percent overall) say they would only sanction concealed carry under certain conditions. Only 14 percent of respondents offered unqualified support.

With several high-profile active-shooter incidents at schools in recent years, many concealed-carry supporters say arming more people on campus would prevent another mass shooting.

“Weapons in the hands of trained and vetted persons can help to mitigate slaughters like what took place at Virginia Tech, if perpetrators of shooting crimes know that they may not execute their suicide plans without being confronted by individuals who will protect themselves and others from the criminal element on a university campus,” says Darren Morgan, director of safety and security at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md.

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Opponents say arming untrained students and professors could potentially escalate violence by triggering a gun battle that may endanger bystanders.

“Truth be told, adrenaline and fear are tremendous issues,” says Ray Osborne, a security director with the University of California, San Diego. “We deal with that with our police officers. When you get an adrenaline rush, you get tunnel vision. And these are cops. I’m not against guns. [But] here, you’re arming people who have never been put in this situation and don’t know how they’re going to react.”

Campus police officers are given the training needed to handle a firearm in a high-stress situation. They also often receive specific active-shooter training that hasn’t been given to students and campus staff who fire at shooting ranges, several respondents say.

“The overriding reason not to do it [is] they’re not trained,” says Sean Tallarico, the police chief at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Penn. “People who go out and punch holes in targets are not trained to react to someone shooting back at them.”

Although he doesn’t support concealed carry for non-law enforcement, Lt. Robert Mueck, of the University of Maryland Police Department, says he may reconsider if gun owners register with his department and agree to undergo further training.

Only Utah now allows concealed carry at any public college or university, by prohibiting the institutions from restricting it. Colorado State University and Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, Va., also allow concealed carry on campus.

On Aug. 21, Michigan Senator Randy Richardville introduced a bill in the state legislature that would remove college dorms and classrooms from the list of banned locations from concealed carry.

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