The issue of self-defense on college campuses is the unheralded equivalent of “Climategate.” Most schools in the United States are defense-free campuses despite an increasing body of knowledge that demonstrates positive benefits of legal concealed carry. At worst, legal, on-campus concealed carry has no negative impact. If there is no negative impact resulting from legal self-defense, then why do school administrators continue to support strict bans?
The simple answer: guns are scary. They’re loud, they’re powerful, and when they’re used to kill, they are messy. If the imagery weren’t enough, guns have a terrible reputation—albeit unfairly. Guns are associated with mass shootings: Columbine, VA Tech, Ft. Hood. They’re associated with murder on the nightly news. Conveniently left out: all the times a concealed weapon was used to defend life. Unfortunately, second chances don’t sell as well as murder, violent crime, or the suffering of children.
So we’re left with a tool, designed to kill, most commonly associated with criminal behavior, and often generating more terror than a foreign WMD. That’s not a great PR position to start from. But it’s also the reason it’s so important that we educate people about the benefits provided by legal weapons. Through education, the choice becomes clear. It’s not about philosophy, it’s about statistics. What makes us safer, and what doesn’t?
It’s telling that students who have actually lived on a campus which allows concealed carry frequently become stalwart defenders of the policy, even if they have no interest in carrying a gun themselves. Let’s take Colorado State University as an example. In 2003, concealed carry became legal on the campus. Crime rates plummeted. Students knew this, so when the Board of Regents decided to change the policy against the will of the student body, and against the recommendation of the local sheriff, the students prepared to take legal action to preserve their rights. Ultimately, after the University of Colorado at Boulder lost a similar case, the Regents backtracked. Concealed carry remains legal on the campus of CSU today.
And what about the Brady Campaign’s dire predictions and fear-mongering rhetoric? None of it ever plays out. Public schools in Nevada have been mandated to allow concealed carry for years, and they have yet to have a single case of a lost or stolen weapon, misfire, accidental shooting, or classroom argument that devolves into an OK Corral style shootout. Simply put, the facts don’t support the Brady Campaign’s predictions, no matter how many times they repeat them, and they never will.
It’s time we stopped letting manufactured fear put students in real danger.