Concealed Carry on College Campuses.
By Haine Tautuaa.
An October evening, 2007, while walking to her car after a night class, Amanda Collins was grabbed from behind in a parking garage owned by the University of Nevada in Reno. James Biela, a serial rapist with a gun in a gun free zone, saw Collins as an easy target and used his weapon to his advantage. “He put a firearm to my temple, clocked the safety off, and told me not to say anything, before he raped me.” Collins recounted to Fox News. Even though Collins had a concealed firearms permit, she was not allowed to carry her weapon with her on campus, to class, or even in her car; because of campus policies prohibiting weapons. Collins was unable to protect herself and Biela got away. Biela struck again just months later, raping and killing 19 year old Brianna Dennison. Had Collins been allowed to carry her firearm, she says, Biela would have been stopped (Cowen). College campuses should allow concealed carry permit holders to carry their firearms on campus.
Currently in the United States, there are only nine states allowing concealed carry on university campuses; Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah, Wisconsin and Texas. Though legislation has been introduced in at least 23 other states to allow concealed carry on campuses, many bills have not passed or are have been put on hold (Guns on Campus Overview). The fact that many other states have seen fit to start legislation on allowing concealed carry on campuses indicates that the movement toward all states and universities allowing concealed carry is slowly gaining momentum.
As mindsets change, and the allowing of concealed carry becomes more accepted, it is important to recognize that the way that it is allowed is different in every state. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reports that Utah is “the only state to have statute specifically naming public colleges and universities as public entities that do not have the authority to ban concealed carry, and thus, all 10 public institutions in Utah allow concealed weapons on their property.” Recently, Kansas passed legislation that rules colleges and universities cannot prohibit concealed carry unless a building has “adequate security measures,” but, the institutions can still request an exemption to the rule for up to four years. Wisconsin legislation rules that colleges and universities must allow concealed carry on campus grounds; however, campuses can prohibit weapons from campus buildings if signs are posted at every entrance explicitly stating that weapons are prohibited. Legislation in Mississippi allows concealed carry on college campuses for those who have taken a voluntary course on safe handling and use of firearms by a certified instructor (Guns on Campus: Overview). Even though each of these states have allowed concealed carry on campuses, each state has had its own provisions and limitations to the law.
One such case is in recent activity in Missouri, “Rep. Jarod Taylor, wants to permit students with concealed firearms on the campuses of Missouri’s colleges and universities if they have a concealed-carry permit” (Rosman). Although Rosman, an editor, writer, professional speaker, and firearms seller, personally disagrees with the legislation put forward. He points out Missouri code that is already on the books. This code says that in Missouri, faculty are allowed to carry concealed firearms under certain parameters (Rosman). So even though the law has not yet allowed students and other permit holders to carry firearms, the legislation does allow for some provided safeties.
In other states, court actions show that universities are overreaching their authority entirely in regulating firearms. For example, the NCSL revealed, that the Colorado Supreme Court ruled against the University of Colorado, finding their policy banning guns from campus violated the state’s concealed carry law. Similarly, the Oregon Court of Appeals overturned Oregon University’s ban, allowing concealed carry on campus, but the University kept the authority to make internal policies and went on to create a policy that bans guns in campus buildings. Both cases were ruled that, “…only the [State] legislature can regulate the use, sale and possession of firearms, and therefore these systems [universities] had overstepped their authority in issuing the bans“(Guns on Campus: Overview). These cases reflect the feelings of many concealed carry supporters, in that the state should ultimately be responsible for defining and enforcing state laws pertaining to where concealed carry is allowed.
Despite the rulings of state legislatures, opponents of guns on college campuses argue that more guns will only lead to an escalation of violent crime. They also argue that a person carrying a gun could “snap” (suddenly lose all control, go insane) and go on a killing spree. Along with them, there are others in opposition that claim that a gun on campus would distract from the learning environment (Common Arguments). Still others who support gun bans on campuses try to find a middle ground between the opposing sides. They often argue that other defensive tools, such as pepper spray, could be used in place of a gun, or that martial arts are sufficient for self-defense.
Students for Concealed Carry (SCC), has come up against these same arguments more than once. The group cites a combination of studies done in Colorado, Utah, and Virginia, from the date that concealed carry was allowed on each state’s campuses. These studies show that in the more than thirty campuses, for a combined total of one hundred semesters, none of these schools saw a single resulting incident(caused by permit holders) of gun violence, including threats and suicides. Nor did they note a single gun accident or gun theft. Likewise, on a slightly different note, none of the forty-one “right-to-carry” states (states that recognize the right of the individual to protect themselves with firearms), have seen a resulting increase in gun violence. Ever since legalizing concealed carry in the state, the result has been the same, despite the fact that licensed citizens in those states regularly carry concealed handguns in public places (e.g. office buildings, movie theaters, grocery stores, shopping malls, restaurants, churches, banks). Several studies prove that concealed handgun license holders are five times less likely than non-license holders to commit violent crimes (Common Arguments). Along with those, The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shows a lower rate of crime overall in many of the same states that are allowing concealed carry on campuses (FBI; Concealed Carry Permit). These statistics and studies show that allowing more guns on campuses does not increase the amount of violence or create an escalation of violence on campus.
The myth of someone just “snapping” and going insane is exactly that, a myth. The Secret Service in collaboration with the US Department of Education, and the National Institute of Justice conducted a study into school shootings in October of 2000. This study concluded that a person does not simply snap. Instead a person spirals downward toward violence, and “this spiral is typically accompanied by many warning signs.”(Common Arguments). A regular permit holder with a gun will not “just snap”. In fact, in order to obtain a Concealed Firearms Permit (CFP), the permit applicant has to be 21years old and go through an extensive course that varies from state to state. In Utah this course includes face to face instruction on state laws, federal laws, self-defense laws, areas allowed and not allowed to carry in. Along with basic handling of firearms, firearms function, and firearm safety, many instructors require time on the range using their firearms. After passing the required test and demonstrating basic skills with their firearm, the Bureau of Criminal Identification conducts an extensive FBI background check (Minimum Training). By completing this course, and passing the background check, the state will recognize the applicant as a law abiding and trustworthy person.
Almost in defiance of the fact that states recognize permit holders as law abiding, the argument remains that a gun on campus will distract from the learning environment (Common Arguments). Although this would be valid in the case of an exposed firearm, this argument is invalid for a concealed firearm. The purpose of this paper is to argue for the ability of Concealed Carry Permit holders to carry on campus. If a permit holder is going to carry their firearm concealed on a university campus, that firearm will be underneath clothing in a way that the unknowing population would not be able to tell that the permit holder is carrying. Technology and recent advances in concealed carry clothing and holsters have made the carrying of firearms easier, more comfortable, and more concealable to the point that concealed firearms have become virtually invisible when carried. The firearm will not be seen and so distractions will not occur, therefore the argument of distraction is invalid.
Such misunderstandings and assumptions of invalid points are common also with those who argue that a gun is not needed. The majority of them say that pepper spray or Tasers will work just fine, but proponents of these arguments are misled in their belief also. A large part of what they fail to realize is that those same policies and regulations that ban guns also ban these types of defense tools. When defensive tools are banned, a person is left only with their hands, and what can you do when you only have your own hands to protect you? Many turn immediately to martial arts training, but a hope that knowledge of martial arts will suffice for self-defense is also unrealistic. The problem with this plan is that any martial art takes years of devotion to master to a point where a person will not hurt themselves more than others. On the other hand, a person can become proficient with a firearm in a fraction of that time. Understanding these points lets us choose what seems to be the best answer for self-defense for the 11.1 million permit holders across the U.S. as of 2014(Concealed Carry Permit Holders).
Firearms are called “equalizers” for good reason. A 66 year old woman can deter the continuation of a threat or stop a 37 year old criminal attacker instantly (Santarelli). Survival no longer depends on a person’s own strength and skill versus the attackers, when the person being attacked has a firearm and knows how to use it for self-defense. A little known fact is that Amanda Collins was a second degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do at the time of her rape (Pavlich). With a gun to her head, she was unable to use her martial arts skills to defend herself, yet if she had been permitted to carry her own fire arm, she would have been able use it to protect herself. The tools that a person could utilize, to use to defend themselves, should not be regulated out of reach of those who may need them.
Legal or not, people carry firearms loaded and concealed. Many of these people are criminals who do not plan to change and for whom it is already illegal to have firearms. Many reports of criminals arrested with weapons and firearms, say they would rather be caught by the police with a gun, than caught by other criminals without one. Criminals do not respect the law; therefore they have no motivation to follow any law. Any laws enacted to guard against criminal conduct must be seriously evaluated for the purpose of discovering if that same law, limits the ability of those law abiding people to protect themselves. Only those who respect the rule of law, follow the law.
Concealed Carry Permit holders must be allowed to carry their firearms onto college campuses. If laws, policies, and regulations limit the ability of individuals to protect themselves, then those same laws, policies, and regulations, must be rescinded. We cannot, as a moral society, limit the ability of individuals to protect themselves by any means possible from attackers, rapists, and murderers. In the end, each individual is the only person available to protect him or herself at any given time.
Bureau of Criminal Identification. “Concealed Firearms Frequently Asked Questions.” Utah Dept. of Public Safety. State of Utah, 2016. Web. 22 Mar. 2016.
Bureau of Criminal Identification. “Minimum Training Curriculum for Utah Concealed Firearm Permit Courses.” Utah Dept. of Public Safety. State of Utah, 10 Dec. 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.
“Common Arguments against Campus Carry”. Students for Concealed Carry. Students for Concealed Carry. 2011-2012. web. 31 Mar. 2016.
Cowen, Claudia. “Opponents of Gun-Free Zones at Universities Find Unlikely Hero in Nevada Woman.” Fox News. Fox News Networks, LLC. 8 Apr. 2011. Web. 8 Apr. 2016.
“Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States.” Crime Prevention Research Center. 9 Jul. 2014. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.
Federal Bureau of Investigation. “Crime Statistics” U.S. Dept. of Justice. U.S. Government. 2015. Web. 31. Mar. 2016.
Rosman, David. “More Guns on College Campuses is Not the Answer.” Missourian. Missouri School of Journalism, 6 Apr. 2016. Web. 8 Apr. 2016.
Santarelli, Christopher. “‘Very Afraid’: 66 Year Old Woman Shoots and Kills Home Intruder.” The Blaze. The Blaze. 22 Oct. 2011. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.
Pavlich, Kate. “Colorado Democrat Lectures Rape Survivor Amanda Collins About Rape ‘Statistics’.” Townhall.com. Townhall.com. 3 Mar. 2013. Web. 8 Apr. 2016.
“Guns on Campus: Overview.” National Conference of State Legislatures. National Conference of State Legislatures. 5 May. 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.