Students should have the right to bear arms on campus

Students should have the right to bear arms on campus

By Stephanie Youssef

Despite the recently passed Concealed Carry Act by the Illinois state legislature allowing state residents over the age of 21 to apply for permits to carry firearms, the concealed carry of weapons is still prohibited on school and college campuses in accordance with Section 65, Article 15. However, university students should be able to carry guns on campus as a resource for personal security.

The second amendment isn’t a vague statement up for different interpretations. The right to bear arms is clearly written in the constitution. Despite this, state legislatures still feel the need to add excessive conditions to the second amendment.

For example, Illinois prohibits the concealed carry of firearms on school properties, a provision meant to keep guns from falling into the hands of children. Where this would be practically applied at elementary schools and high schools, it is excessive to apply this law to college campuses where the vast majority of students are legal adults.

The unfortunate reality is that universities are common targets for mass shootings due to the high density of what are referred to as “soft” or unarmed targets. Incidents at Virginia Tech, the University of Texas and California State University are just some of a long list of school shootings that have etched a deep scar into this country’s history. Simply posting a “no guns allowed” sign onto the entrance of school buildings does not ensure that a similar occurrence is prevented at the University of Illinois. A study by economists John Lott and William Landes showed that banning firearms is counterproductive in that it actually increases the University’s chances of being targeted for mass shootings. In fact, every single mass shooting that resulted in more than three victims since 1950, with the exception of the attack on congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2011, has taken place in a gun-free zone.  

Yes, there are security personnel at this University that do a wonderful job — but they aren’t in every building at every minute of the day and night. There aren’t metal detectors at the entrances to the Quad to detect if someone is carrying firearms on campus. Thus, a gunman with malicious intentions is unlikely to be phased by a no-guns sticker at the entrance to Lincoln Hall and suddenly decide to leave his firearms in his car. The only productive thing that prohibiting concealed carry on campus does is disarm the law abiding students that would use the gun they carry for personal safety, and turns them into “sitting ducks” for madmen looking for soft targets.  

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However, even on a scale smaller than the potential of mass murder happening on campus, guns are a source of security in cases of individual attacks. Robberies, even armed robberies, happen on campus and in surrounding areas where students live. In 2012, on main campus alone, there were over 35 cited cases of assault and theft. Students on campus should be given a better chance to defend themselves in cases of personal assaults. Where martial arts training can help in certain instances, proficiency in hand-to-hand combat isn’t as effective when you are approached by an assailant much larger than you or threatening you with a weapon.

Some may argue that guns have no place on a campus where irresponsibility and drinking are common. I can see how a gun in the arms of someone inebriated could end badly. At the same rate, though, a car in the hands of someone inebriated could also end badly, but vehicles aren’t banned on campus. Trying to argue that students might act irresponsibly with a firearm because of some of the behavior that is typical on a college campus is an emotional speculation refuted by data about concealed carry permit holders. According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, statistics from states that already allow concealed carry on college campuses show that there is no evidence to suggest that people with a concealed carry license behave any differently on school property. 

In fact, according to the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, “the about 11.5 million current concealed handgun permit holders are extremely law-abiding.” This is accredited to the effective filtering process of applying for and obtaining a concealed carry license, which includes rigorous background checks, the submission and approval of lengthy applications, as well as the required completion of 16 hours of firearms training meant to keep guns from falling into careless hands. The system is so effective that people, according to Lott, “lose their permits for firearm violations at hundredths or thousandths of one percentage point.”

As was said by the National Rifle Association, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Stephanie is a sophomore in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @Syoussef22.