Picture this: you’re at a party. Basically everyone there has been drinking. You see two of your friends, a guy and a girl, go off into a separate room alone. You don’t think anything of it — they had been flirting for a while anyway. You get tired; you decide to leave.
But then, just as you’re about to walk out the building door… bang. You hear a gunshot. You rush back up to the apartment where the party was to find that your friend had been shot because he had tried to force himself onto his date.
Was the gun necessary? How might it have ended differently without it? It prevented a sexual assault, but almost at the price of someone else’s life.
Scenarios like this will serve as arguments in 10 state legislatures this year for allowing concealed carry on college campuses. Hearings are expected to begin within the coming weeks.
According to the National Conference of State Legislature, seven states currently have statutes that permit concealed carry on “public postsecondary campuses.” These include Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin.
Twenty states have laws that ban carrying concealed weapons on campuses, while another 23, one of which is Maryland, allow individual colleges and universities to decide their own policies. McDaniel currently does not permit weapons of any kind on college grounds, but personal protection devices, such as mace, are allowed.
This topic has been heatedly debated since the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, and the occurrence of other school shootings has only added to the proponents’ arguments. In addition, some state legislators will be using rape prevention and sexual assault prevention as support in their arguments.
In 2007, Amanda Collins was raped at the University of Nevada, Reno. She claims that if she were allowed to carry her licensed handgun, the situation could have been avoided. A New York Times article cited that it is unknown if Collins plans to speak in state legislatures this year in support of concealed carry bills.
“If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them,” Nevada assemblywoman Michele Fiore told the New York Times. “The sexual assaults that are occurring will go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.”
In the same article, University of Oklahoma professor John D. Hubert said, “It reflects a misunderstanding of sexual assaults in general. If you have a rape situation, usually it starts with some sort of consensual behavior, and by the time it switches to nonconsensual, it would be nearly impossible to run for a gun.”
One group in support of these bills is Students For Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC). With 43,000 members across the nation comprised of students, professors, parents, and regular citizens, this organization believes that if an individual has a permit to carry a handgun, he or she should have the same rights on a college campus as he or she would in other locations.
They explain that prohibiting guns on campuses only prevents people from protecting themselves. Their website, concealedcampus.org, says that “numerous independent researchers and state agencies agree that concealed handgun license holders are five times less likely than non-license holders to commit violent crimes.”
Another advocacy group involved in this debate is Keep Guns Off Campus (KGOC). In contrast to SCCC’s claims, KGOC says that allowing guns on college grounds could exacerbate mass shootings, referencing the Virginia Tech shooting where 32 people were killed and 15 were wounded, and the 2008 shooting at Northern Illinois University that killed five students and wounded 16.
“The gun lobby’s legislation would not stop college shootings,” explains their website, keepgunsoffcampus.org.
The website contains a list of colleges and universities that have signed a pledge to oppose these handgun bills. There are currently 370 schools on that list, and 48 individual college presidents have signed.
Schools that have signed in Maryland include Salisbury University, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, University of Maryland and UMBC. McDaniel is not on this list.
Opponents of concealed carry argue that college campuses should remain safe zones from guns. In addition, heavy drinking is a serious factor that contributes to gun-related incidents on colleges that allow concealed carry.
This article is part one of two. The next one will feature how concealed carry could affect McDaniel if it were to be passed in Maryland and if the college decided to enforce it on campus.