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Margin Notes

Guns on campus

There is a group in the U.S. called Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. What are they advocating be concealed and carried? Why, guns of course.


There is a group in the United States called Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. What are they advocating be concealed and carried? Why, guns of course. The group advocates that students be allowed to carry handguns on campus for their personal protection. The group was formed in response to the April 16, 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech University that claimed 33 lives.

In most states in the U.S., citizens have the right to carry a concealed firearm for self-defence. However, according to the group’s website, 24 states expressly prohibit individuals from carrying a concealed weapon on college campuses, whether or not that person holds a valid concealed handgun permit. The group, reasonably enough I suppose, feels that “holders of state-issued concealed handgun licenses should be allowed the same measure of personal protection on college campuses that current laws afford them virtually everywhere else.”

Of course, that’s assuming U.S. gun laws are reasonable in the first place, an opinion that many in the Western world – and likely most in Canada – would not hold. It’s a seductive argument: if you’re armed, then you can blast the miscreant before he (it’s always a “he”) can do more harm. But this is precisely the thinking that leads to the personal arms race we see in the U.S., which is awash in guns and has the highest rate of gun crime in the developed world.

I for one do not want to live in a society where everybody’s armed. Frankly, I liked the idea that university campuses were somehow exempt.

For those who read French, La Presse had a very good article recently by Nicolas Bérubé that explores this issue as it is playing out in the U.S. The article quotes a member of the concealed-carry group and also interviews a student from Virginia Tech who lost a friend during the tragic shooting and is opposed to allowing concealed guns on campus. “The idea of having more guns doesn’t make sense,” says John Woods. “You’ve got to prevent crime before it happens.”

What’s your opinion? Should campuses remain “guns-free” zones? Does carrying a firearm make you safer, or does it make everybody else less safe?

Léo Charbonneau
Léo Charbonneau is the editor of University Affairs.
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  1. Michael Mehta / April 15, 2009 at 15:02

    Not to make light of a controversial topic, but I would be concerned about the pressure to perform at an even higher level in the classroom. RateMyProfessors is bad enough.

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