Levine is a sophomore politics major and can be contacted at email@example.com.
Unfortunately, we are all very aware of the recent violence in the Drake Neighborhood. Although there have not been school shootings, per se, there have been shootings by those in the Des Moines community at-large. They certainly evoke questions about the safety of our campus.
These questions are not new, though. In light of recent school shootings (two at Virginia Tech), folks have scrambled for solutions to the problem. While most argue for stricter gun control, some have argued that allowing students to carry guns themselves would actually make campuses safer. It seems counterintuitive, but is there any credibility in this argument? While I may personally support this policy, I’m not here calling for a switch at Drake. Rather, I only hope that as students we at least start to become more open minded to the idea and realization of our natural right to self-defense.
The problem with this issue is the irrationality that enters the debate. Emotions tend to take over, and reason isn’t used in drafting solutions to the problem. People tend to immediately assume that gun control will lead to less guns which will in turn lead to less crime, but that is not true in the least. Rather, it is an argument and policy fueled by a frantic need-to-get-something-done motivation that overcomes people when tragedy hits. I am putting forth here that when a school shooting happens — or something similar to that — we ought not to reach for individuals’ guns but instead look at how gun policy has worked (or, more appropriately, not worked) in the past.
Dr. John Lott and Dr. David Mustard produced an exhaustive study examining evidence from counties nationwide from 1977-92 on the effect of concealed carry laws. They found “that allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crimes, without increasing accidental deaths.” This makes perfect sense. If criminals don’t know whether their potential victims are armed, then how confident can they be in attacking them?
According to the advocacy group Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, not one of the 12 schools that have concealed carry policies has experienced “a single resulting incident of gun violence” after the plan was implemented for a combined 100 semesters. This puts to rest the worry by many that allowing students to have guns will increase the amount of violence on campuses.
There are many other studies that back the claim that gun control simply doesn’t work. It certainly hasn’t work in Washington D.C. and in Chicago. Although, thankfully, because of McDonald v. Chicago, things have changed somewhat. But why are there still so many people that continue to believe gun control will work in other certain communities, such as college campuses?
Of course, as I mentioned, it is due to emotionally driven debate. One argument against allowing students to carry is the possibility that a student may simply “snap” and shoot somebody. This is a scare tactic that has no factual base. The Secret Service performed a study on school shootings as a part of its “Safe School Initiative” in 2000 and found that “incidents of targeted violence at school are rarely impulsive.” Instead, they are the “result of an understandable and often discernable process of thinking and behavior.” It is not as if those committing school-related shootings just snap on somebody. They perform these violent actions after a long process of deliberation, however morbid that may sound. Concealed carry policies would not excacerbate this issue at all.
It is because of this overwhelming evidence that I think students (only those who qualify at the state level — 21 years old and up) should be able to carry guns on campus. I’d sure feel safer (with no sarcasm intended, it’s better than what Drake Security can offer). Consider the places that have experienced mass shootings. They have one thing in common — they are gun-free zones. Yet obviously that hasn’t deterred people from bringing guns into the area to kill others. Why? Well, when we outlaw guns, then only outlaws will have guns. Simply because guns are banned doesn’t mean criminals will stop using them. They’re criminals! David Rittgers, legal policy analyst at the Cato Institute, said that “strict gun-control policies have failed to deliver on their essential promise: that denying law-abiding citizens access to the means of self-defense will somehow make them safer.” This applies to college campuses as well. I hope we are more open about our policies and someday allow students access to an actual means of self-defense.