Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of The James G. Martin Center. The author of this post is William Gilmore.
The debate over whether guns should be permitted on college campuses has been contentious for many years. Some argue that allowing firearms in higher-education institutions can lead to increased violence and accidents, while others contend that such a policy enhances personal safety and promotes responsible gun ownership. With "campus carry"
back in the news (in West Virginia, Georgia, Michigan, and elsewhere), now is a good time to restate the case for responsible gun possession on campus.
Enhanced Personal Safety
One of the primary reasons proponents advocate for guns on college campuses is the potential to improve personal safety. With incidents of campus shootings and violence becoming an increasing concern, allowing law-abiding, trained individuals to carry firearms could act as a deterrent to potential attackers. In a crisis situation, armed individuals could respond swiftly, potentially minimizing the harm caused by an active shooter.
This is especially true because, in some instances, college campuses are located in remote or rural areas where law-enforcement response time can be prolonged. Allowing guns on campus could serve as an interim measure to bridge the gap between an emergency situation and the arrival of police.
Respect for Individual Liberties
Supporters rightly argue that prohibiting guns on college campuses infringes upon individual liberties and the right to self-determination. By allowing guns, institutions demonstrate their commitment to respecting the Constitution and the principles of personal freedom.
Furthermore, when trained individuals are allowed to bring guns on college campuses, they have the opportunity to take responsibility for their own safety. Empowering students, faculty, and staff with the ability to protect themselves fosters a sense of security, reducing anxiety about potential threats.
Significantly, campus-carry policies often come with stringent requirements, including background checks, safety courses, and mandatory training sessions. This ensures that only responsible gun owners are permitted to carry firearms.
Legal Consistency and Fiscal Considerations
In a number of states, the law allows individuals with concealed-carry permits to bring firearms onto public property, including college campuses. Allowing guns on even private campuses aligns with these state laws, ensuring consistency and continuity in firearm regulation.
Finally, some proponents argue that permitting guns on college campuses can lead to cost savings by reducing the need for additional security personnel. Instead of relying solely on campus police, a well-trained and armed campus community may aid in maintaining its own security.
Whether guns should be allowed on college campuses is a complex and multifaceted issue. (The Martin Center has weighed in on several occasions: here
, and here
.) While there are valid arguments on both sides, proponents of campus-carry policies emphasize the potential for increased personal safety, the empowerment of individuals, and a growing respect for individual liberties. While public safety, student well-being, and the preservation of academic environments should remain the top priorities in addressing this contentious issue, strict regulations can ensure responsible gun ownership and mitigate potential risks.
William Gilmore is a business student at Thales College and a summer '23 Martin Center intern.