Legalize campus concealed carry

By Stephanie Youssef

State Sen. Brandon Phelps, the main sponsor of the Illinois concealed carry legislation that went into effect in 2013, has sponsored a dozen more bills expanding the rights of Illinois gun owners, which were proposed to the Illinois General Assembly yesterday.

Proposals to expand concealed carry have been met by opposition from Chicago politicians and other Illinois residents, but given statistics about the safety concealed carry provides and the brushes the University has had with potential gun violence, concealed carry should be allowed on college campuses.

Last week, The Daily Illini Editorial Board penned an opposition to expanding concealed carry laws to college campuses, arguing that allowing students to carry firearms on campus will be a catalyst for more crime.

But studies by the National Academy of Sciences and the Harvard Injury Control Research Center show there is no evidence that legalizing concealed carry leads to an increase in violent crime or gun deaths.

Furthermore, the Crime Prevention Research Center has found that no concealed carry permit holder has ever shot an innocent bystander or committed a crime on a school campus.

Oppositional arguments assume that due to the presence of alcohol on campuses and the high density of residents, the plausibility for gun violence increases. This is a claim that is refuted by data from colleges that already allow concealed carry. Over 150 colleges in the U.S. allow concealed carry and none of them saw an increase in crime after lifting gun bans. In fact, since allowing guns, not one of the campuses has seen a single act of gun violence or threat in over 1,500 combined semesters of legalized concealed carry.

Additionally, FBI statistics show that crime is actually lower in areas where guns are allowed.

Take Colorado schools for example. In 2003, Colorado State University allowed concealed carry on campus and saw a 61 percent drop in crimes on campus from 2002 to 2008. Specifically, sexual assaults on campus went from 47 events to just two in those six years. Colorado University, on the other hand, decided to ban guns and crime increased by 37 percent on their campus in the same time period.

Some also argue that, in the context of mass shootings, concealed carry isn’t a debate necessary at the University because the chances of an incident happening here are slim. But shootings have come closer to our campus than some may expect.

In 2011, James Holmes applied and was accepted into a doctoral program here at the University. In 2012, Holmes was the perpetrator of one of the worst mass shootings in recent history, killing 12 people and wounding 58 in an Aurora, Colorado, theatre where guns were banned.

While attending the University as a graduate student in February 2008, Steven Kazmierczak drove up to Northern Illinois University, where he had conducted his undergraduate studies, where he shot and killed five students and injured 21 in the fifth deadliest university shooting in U.S. history.

The Daily Illini editorial cites the Purdue University shooting and an incident where shots were fired at Canopy Club as examples in support of stricter gun bans. But at the time of the incidents, both Canopy and Purdue were (and still are) gun-free zones. These two incidents are actually prime examples of why gun bans don’t prevent gun crimes.

I have previously written an article citing more data concerning the concealed carry of firearms in the United States. Most of the arguments against concealed carry that I have heard, much like the editorial, revolve around emotional conjecture and fail to address concealed carry statistics. Due to some of the unsubstantiated speculations and stigmas surrounding legal gun use, students seem to ignore the well-researched evidence in support of the safety concealed carry provides ­­­— evidence I find to be overwhelming.

There is also a danger in perpetuating the false notion that concealed carry on campus somehow makes room for crime when the facts speak differently. Bans to concealed carry stemming from false notions of higher danger rob students of an opportunity to defend themselves.

The innocent victims of the Aurora theatre shooter and the students who were shot at Purdue, NIU and in shootings on college campuses across the country couldn’t legally carry guns where they were killed; they had no legal right to use guns for self-defense.

Students and other Illinois residents should write to their congressmen supporting the expansion of concealed carry laws to campus. Law-abiding students in Illinois need the legal right to arm themselves with a resource for personal security.

Still think that banning concealed carry on campus protects you? Think again.

Stephanie is a junior in LAS.

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