Guns On Campus Prove Unpopular Among College Leaders Nationwide

Guns On Campus: Popular Among Conservatives, Hated By College Leaders

As the national conversation continues to focus on how to address gun violence, groups like the NRA and Students For Concealed Carry have advocated publicly to allow students and faculty with concealed carry permits to bring their weapons onto campuses.

But lawmakers pushing to allow guns at colleges and universities in states like Indiana, Colorado and Texas have hit a roadblock: people who work and go to school on those campuses.

Twenty states currently ban concealed weapons on campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (Arkansas previously made a 21st, but recently passed laws to leave the decision to the individual schools). Another five states have provisions to allow concealed carry at higher education institutions, 24 allow schools to set their own policies, and several other states are now debating whether or not to change their laws to allow more firearms on college campuses.

According to the advocacy group Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, only 25 two- and four-year colleges, located in Colorado, Utah, Virginia and Michigan, have opted to allow concealed carry on their campus.

Lawmakers who have proposed concealed weapons in schools sometimes say it's an extension of student and faculty's constitutional right to protect themselves during a possible shooting. Others say these laws are needed to enable women at colleges to protect themselves from sexual assaults.

Officials from several colleges in Indiana, including Purdue University and Indiana University, objected to letting anyone other than law enforcement carry a firearm at the schools, rejecting in the process the suggestion that concealed carry would stop rapes.

Lisa Maatz, director of public policy and government relations at the American Association of University Women, said these proposed laws are driven more by "dogma than good public policy."

A vast majority of sexual assaults, 73 percent, are perpetrated by a non-stranger, according to U.S. Department of Justice statistics. Maatz questions how a gun would help ward off an attacker who's an acquaintance, especially in an intimate setting.

"Date rape and acquaintance rape are the biggest issues," Maatz told The Huffington Post. "It's not some bogey man jumping out of the bushes at them, it's often someone they know and trust."

Many college officials oppose concealed carry at their schools because, Maatz believes, they know these statistics, as well as the research that shows an increased risk of homicide when a gun is present.

More than 340 college presidents, mostly from private liberal arts schools, have signed an open letter to policy makers that declares their opposition to allowing concealed weapons at schools. Cornell President David Skorton recently penned a Forbes op-ed in which he questions whether more guns on campus is the answer to stop mass shootings; and many more education officials are prodding college presidents to speak out on the issue.

Lawrence Schall, president of Oglethorpe University in Atlanta recently wrote in an op-ed at the Chronicle of Higher Education and reprinted at HuffPost about a group of college presidents who have "shared our collective opinion, based on the experience of managing hundreds of college campuses that permitting faculty members and students to arm themselves on our campuses will make us all less safe -- not more safe."

But resistance to the proposals hasn't been a liberal phenomenon: Legislators have met steadfast opposition from colleges in red states as well.

In Montana, a constitutional showdown is brewing as the Montana Board of Regents, which controls the state's university system, has voiced its opposition to a bill pending in the legislature that would strip its authority to make campus security decisions at as part of an effort to allow weapons, concealed or otherwise, on campuses.

University of Georgia system Chancellor Hank Huckaby, a former GOP state lawmaker, testified against a bill this week that would allow guns on campus.

And the Faculty Council at the University of Texas recently voted for the third time in five years to reaffirm its objection to letting students and staff carry firearms on campus. Both UT President Bill Powers and Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa are on record in opposition as well.

In recent years, opinion polls at the UT-San Antonio and Sam Houston State University, and a referendum vote at Texas A&M University all showed a clear majority of students oppose letting handguns on campus.

Despite this consistent message from the state's universities, Texas legislators continue to push for changes in the campus gun ban law.

Lawmakers in Kansas are also considering new laws to allow firearms at colleges, even though student governments at each public university in the state have passed resolutions opposing guns on campus, according to the Associated Press.

In Colorado, an effort to return the ban on concealed carry at colleges is currently stalled. The Colorado Board of Regents recently voted to table a proposal, supported by two Republican regents, that would have endorsed the current policy that allows guns on campuses.

There is no gun control legislation being debated at the federal level that would apply specifically to institutions of higher education.

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