More states are working toward campus carry

Lawmakers across the country want to add their states to the short list of states that allow students, faculty, and staff to legally carry concealed firearms on college campuses.

There are only seven states that currently allow concealed firearms on campus with some exceptions depending on the state.

As previously reportedby Campus Reform, there are currently 10 states trying to add college campuses to the list of permissible places to carry a concealed firearm, including: Nevada, Indiana, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming, and Florida.

According to National Conference of State Legislatures, there were 19 states in 2013 that introduced legislation to lift the restriction of concealed carry licensees on college campuses. Fourteen states continued to work on similar legislation in 2014.

Twenty-three states give the decision to ban or allow concealed firearms on campuses to individual schools: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

According to Armed Campuses, as of August 21, 2013, out of the 23 states that give universities the authority to make their own policies regarding firearms, there are only six (California University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro University, Kutztown University, Lock Haven University, Millersville University of Pennsylvania, and Slippery Rock University) that allow campus-carry.

A popular argument against campus-carry is that universities are high-stress environments with excessive amounts of alcohol, and if concealed firearms were allowed on campus it would potentially cause an increase in accidental deaths.

“There’s alcohol, there’s drugs — these are high-pressure environments,” said Andy Pelosi, director of the Gun Free Kids organization. “We’re looking at a situation where we have, for the most part, safe environments. To start introducing guns into these safe environments is really opening up a can of worms and going to change these safe environments to potentially unsafe environments.”

Based ondata reported to the U.S. Department of Education from 2011 to 2013, for universities in Pennsylvania and Virginia that permit concealed firearms on campus. There were no reported cases of negligent manslaughter on or off-campus.

Campus Reform also looked at data from 21 universities across the country that allow campus carry, three schools each from Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, and Wisconsin. Based on the data reported to the U.S. Department of Education from 2011 to 2013, there has been no increase in negligent manslaughter cases involving students on and off-campus. Out of the 21 universities evaluated, there were no reported cases of negligent manslaughter (2014 and 2015 data is not yet available).

Indeed, a recent post in The Washington Post’s Volokh Conspiracy blog notes that Colorado State University, a school of 30,000 students which has had campus carry since 2003, has never had any issue with concealed carriers.

Lawmakers in Florida, Nevada, and Indiana have argued that this legislation has the potential to curb the rising number of sexual assaults on college campuses.

"The idea that defensive gun use is likely to be an effective method for deterring or dealing with sexual assault seems to overlook what we know about the large majority of sexual assaults experienced by college students," said Chris Krebs, senior research social scientist at RTI International in an interview with The Huffington Post.

While there is no substantial evidence that campus-carry lowers the number of sexual assaults, due to the small percentage of victims who actually report, the testimony of multiple women have backed lawmakers across the country.

The testimony of Amanda Collins, a student who was raped on campus at the University of Nevada-Reno, has been used in Colorado, Michigan, and Nevada. Collins was unable to defend herself at the time of her rape because Nevada law restricted her from carrying her concealed weapon on campus.

Florida state Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda (D) spoke out in a committee hearing last month in support of campus-carry due to her personal experience in college. “I was sent to college with a handgun by my father who trained me to use one,” said Rehwinkel Vasilinda. “And thank God, because I had a rape attempted on me... and was able to get to my gun, and was able to stop the rape.” Her violent attack happened in her apartment by someone she knew and was never reported.

A strong lobby for concealed carry on campus is the student-run organization Students for Concealed Carry (SCC). The organization was founded shortly after the mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007 and has no affiliation with the National Rifle Association.

“Universities are under a ton of investigation for how they handle sexual assaults — that shows how safe campus maybe isn’t,” said Crayle Vanest, Midwest regional director for SCC. “Our female membership has increased massively. People who weren’t listening before are listening now.”

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