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Should Colleges Allow Students and/or Staff To Carry Guns on Campus?


Do you know that having a gun next to you greatly raises your risk of self-harm and fatality and that of those around you? As a gun holder, you may unintentionally discharge or fire it, hurting yourself or the individuals around you. Colleges are places fundamentally meant for educational purposes, but several individuals strongly advocate for college students and staff members to carry guns for safety purposes. American gun lobby groups, including the National Rifle Association (NRA), have passed a law compelling institutions of higher learning to permit guns on campus. Following the 2007 and 2008 mass shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University that murdered thirty-two individuals, the NRA propositioned a bill. It was a bill to compel colleges to permit the carrying of guns on campuses, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) implemented it in 2008. This law greatly promotes different forms of danger for campus staff members and students. Many American individuals and groups, not limited to students, lecturers, and police officers, massively oppose the law, which massively risks the lives of many students and staff members around college surroundings. This issue of allowing guns on campus is very concerning in the education sector of America as it negatively impacts the performance of college students and staff and significantly risks their lives. In light of the significant mass shootings in American colleges since the 60s and the many involved risk factors seriously linked to guns’ presence in these institutions, this paper will argue why colleges should not allow students and staff to carry guns on campus.


Mass college shootings in America

Research shows that gun accessibility on campuses significantly increases the dangers of suicides and makes brutal cases more fatal. Many college students who have taken part in surveys assert that college shootings affect their security senses, making them propose more strict gun policies. Everytown for Gun Safety says that ninety-three mass shootings have occurred from 2009 to 2020, averaging more than nine shootings yearly. To add to that, eleven percent of these cases took place in colleges. It is challenging to refute and fail to empathize with the massive toll the shootings take on victims and their households.

In August 1966, a twenty-five-year-old student from the University of Texas campus shot and murdered fifteen individuals, hurting thirty-one more from a lookout. This was the initial recorded higher-learning gun shooting. It was also the original, up-to-date mass shooting in the whole of the USA. On May 4, 1976, Kent State said a shooting occurred at the University in Kent, Ohio. The Ohio National Guard workers opened a gunfire, killing four students and wounding nine. On February 14, 2008, a shooter murdered five individuals and injured sixteen others inside a study room on a campus at Dekalb in Illinois. The shooter then went ahead to kill himself after the incident. In 2011, a student at UT Austin was apprehended by police officers for shooting his gun in the school’s washing area. Additionally, on April 2, 2012, another shooting occurred at a campus at Okois University in Oakland. A former male student from this university shot ten people, murdering seven and hurting three. On October 1, 2015, another sad shooting incident took place at a campus of the Umpqua Community College in Oregon. A twenty-six-year-old student from the college murdered nine people and wounded nine on the campus, then killed himself during the situation.

Furthermore, on November 13, 2022, another unfortunate gun shooting took place, affecting students of the University of Virginia. A student from this university fired on a vehicle transporting the university students while it was returning to the Charlottesville campus in Virginia. Three students were murdered, and other two were wounded. Another sad incident involving a gun shooting happened at Michigan State University on February 13, 2023. A shooter fired inside two structures at the university in East Lansing, Michigan. He murdered three students and harmed five more. After being approached and challenged by police officers, he shot himself dead.

Risk factors for guns-on-campus rule

Increased risks of self-harm and suicide

Self-annihilation attempts involving guns are more likely to lead to a fatality than trials utilizing any other methods. If guns are available to students and staff in college surroundings who are thinking of taking their lives, the ownership of firearms may be highly linked to significant suicide probability. The students or staff may be experiencing troubles, causing them to despair and feel like taking their lives to obtain eternal peace. Many college students are young adults who have started being independent, experiencing massive financial and emotional baggage. They may decide to use their guns to kill themselves wherever and whenever on the college premises if the despair and life pressure get too much to handle. “Firearms are implements of choice for adolescent homicides and suicides” (Price and Khubchandani 67-79). A survey by Everytown for Gun Safety in 2019 found that three out of five students in college suffered great anxiety feelings in 2018, and few had massive depression feelings hindering normal functioning.   Also, some students or staff who decide to fire and shoot their fellow school members may kill themselves afterward due to the fear of facing punishment if found out.

Additionally, it is effortless for one to harm one’s body mistakenly or intentionally while carrying a gun on campus for various reasons. Some may do it to prove a point to their friends or to blackmail people to do something for them.    Also, a lecturer at Idaho State unintentionally shot his foot with a gun during his lecture, according to the Idaho State Journal 2014 report (“Incidents on College Campuses that Allow Campus Carry – Safe Tennessee Project”). On March 30, 2017, a Rolling Stone reporter said that a student’s firearm at Utah University went off, injuring his limb in 2012.

Increased drug abuse

Ownership of a gun by an unruly and strong-willed college student is heavily linked to increased self-confidence. The students will feel as if they are powerful carrying a firearm and anyone who tries to challenge them is stupid, regardless of who it is. That confidence and unruliness will make them not fear abusing drugs and vandalizing property wherever around campus. Everytown for Gun Safety did a survey and reported that sixty-two percent of American college students said they had drunk alcohol in November 2020. Thirty-five percent said they got very drunk, and thirty percent said they used illegal drugs during that same month. Students who owned and brought guns to campus were also highly probable to report getting drunk excessively and, often, driving under the influence and destroying property. Alcohol intake is linked to raised hostility, poor decision-making on whether to fire a gun, and poor focus when shooting it.

Increased risks of bullying and attacks

Bullying explains a recurrent mannerism rooted in the intentions to hurt and an authority difference between the offender and the targeted person. It may be that that aspect of authority dynamics makes bullies tend to own and carry guns on campuses. They may carry the weapons to instill fear and promote their powerful status around campus. Unadulterated bullies have higher odds of possessing firearms on campuses than their fellow students, whom bullying situations have never impacted. Such bullies will not find it hard to continue intimidating and attacking their regular victims and new ones due to the supreme power they feel they have as gun owners. Most of the time, their victims do not have or carry guns on campus premises because of reasons like fear of firearms. The bullies will consistently intimidate their victims on campus, telling them that they may shoot them if they fail to follow their orders. The bullies who carry guns will tend to go for fearful, weaker students who do not own guns.

Usually, a student with a gun is feared by one having none since the knowledge that the former can decide to shoot them dead at any time promotes feelings of fear. So, even a non-gun-carrying lecturer will often have no other option but to accept bullying and inadvertent attacks from a student carrying a firearm. A report in August 2023 from the New York Times said that a  student from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill murdered his lecturer in a campus lab. Thus, the carrying of guns by students on campus promotes more significant risks of such students consistently intimidating, bullying, and attacking fearful, weaker students and staff carrying none for various reasons.

Increased risks of more active shooting

Carrying a gun in one’s possession is one thing, and choosing to use it is entirely another thing. A student or staff at a college may simply be carrying a gun around the school to feel safe, with no intention of using it. However, they may be compelled to use it when worse comes to worst, encouraging a fatal active shooting scenario. The student or staff may be highly angered or intimidated by their fellow student or staff during school hours. Or their life may be threatened by a group of unruly and ill-mannered students who may want to injure them for no good reason at all. The student or staff member with the gun may have to discharge their weapon and fire it at the disturbing individual or group to do away with the disturbance. An active shooting case took place when a former student from the University of Arizona shot his lecturer dead in the Harshbarger Building. Most of the time, such a student or staff member will be one with a mental health disorder that drives them to resort to shooting their offenders. The Columbia University Department of Psychiatry asserts that the method by which mental disorders, when they are causative, promote brutality is through the impairment of impulse control. The Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI of sixty-three active shootings showed that a quarter of the cases were from brain disorder diagnosis.

Risks of more institutional liabilities

States with sanctioned laws compelling colleges to permit firearms on campus are suffering to overcome the effects. Enforcements have been very combative in Texas, where a bill allowing guns on campus was implemented in 2015. Great institutional members resigned from their positions to seek jobs elsewhere in different states. Also, teachers have failed to consider working at Texas universities. Lecturers in Texas have charged claims over the bill, and though courts ignored the lawsuits, the lecturers assert the dissatisfaction staff members experience having to teach on campuses allowing firearms. Additionally, guns on campus would put heavy burdens on the institutions financially. The legislation brings a new expenditure to ensure campus security, including adding security workers and cameras. To adhere to a Kansas legislation forcing colleges to permit armaments on campus and enforce extra safety measures, three colleges said they would need over two million dollars to buy the required safety facilities.

After institutions of higher learning in Florida analyzed the costs of firearms on campuses, one institution said it had to use at least one million dollars in the initial year. The state community colleges maintained that they would require at least seventy-four million dollars to make preparations for the guns-on-campus policy. Following the sanctioning of legislation forcing colleges to permit individuals to possess firearms on campus in Idaho in 2014, several state institutions suffered. Five schools had to appeal for over three million dollars from state funding to raise security solely in the initial implementation year. Also, a guns-on-campus bill that was propositioned in West Virginia in 2019 was approximated to use over eleven million dollars for its implementation. Besides, there is great concern that to train and arm a college lecturer for their safety is costly for the institution and will snatch funds away from more vital educational purposes.

Increased fear and discomfort among students

Most urban college students are traumatized by firearms, especially black American students. A secondary school teacher, Senator Joyce Elliot from Arkansas, asserted that the decision-making process to permit armaments on campuses must consider cultural variations. Legislators should not force or make all colleges allow students and staff to carry guns around campuses because different students have varied perceptions and feelings about guns. A report from the Giffords Law Center on February 23, 2023, said that Blacks pass away from gun violence at almost two times the rate of Whites. Several Black college students have been involved in these cases, traumatizing them in more ways than one. Many have sadly had to watch the lives of their loved ones being taken away from them while they watch, traumatizing them (Williams). Senator Elliot then added that to want college staff and lecturers to carry guns on campus for their safety, one might feel it is a superb idea, but many Black students are fearful and uncomfortable knowing that lecturers have guns in class. The students may be uneasy, feeling that the lecturers may just decide to fire them and harm them if they excessively offend them accidentally. Uneasiness and fear among the students deter them from concentrating well on their lessons, reducing their school performance.

Opposite side

Several gun rights activists and gun lobby groups like the NRA are die-hard supporters of the guns-on-campus legislation (Wesley and Proitt). The NRA started its effort to compel institutions of higher learning to permit firearms on campus after several aforementioned prominent college shootings took place. The 2008 shooting made the NRA suggest, and ALEC implement the bill forcing colleges to let guns be carried on campuses. The effort to force the institutions to do so has massively increased since then. Bills moving colleges to let guns be carried on campus have been implemented in thirty-seven states since 2015, according to Everytown Research & Policy. These activists and groups claim that colleges should do that to adhere to the Second Amendment, providing the right to possess and have weapons. As a US citizen, one has the right to arm themselves, so any American college student and staff can legally carry a gun on campus. These supporters claim that college students and staff have the right to protect their lives by carrying guns lawfully on campus, taking note of this era of many mass shootings. They may be able to defend themselves from perpetrators of shooting scenes using their weapons, working also to reduce mass shootings.

What needs to be done?

Guns-on-campus law encompasses the gun lobby’s greater task of raising firearm ownership in every state, come what may, even in colleges. They want that regardless of the many risk factors the legislation carries. Meaning removing and excluding firearms from college campus premises needs a comprehensive and extensive approach. American parents, students, college staff, and other interested individuals can collaborate with teams like the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus to prevent the law from being implemented in all states and colleges. As a normal netizen you have to “……..magnify your voice with others, show up to hearings to participate in policy and law making, and stand with the candidates who share your values” (Wesley and Proitt 10-11)  Then, global background checks must be implemented by needing licensed firearm traders and private dealers in these opposing states to do background checks on all potential buyers (“How background checks and ‘red flag’ gun laws work”). The sellers must check to ensure they do not sell the firearms to college students and staff who should not have them. Additionally, everyone opposing the law can do their best to advocate for legislation raising the age needed to be able to buy guns.

The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus must prioritize efforts to persuade American states to pass legislation forbidding the ownership of guns in institutions of higher learning. Parents and guardians take their adolescent children to colleges, entrusting their welfare in the organization’s hands. The institutions are responsible to the guardians and parents to enhance their interests and safeguard their lives, which means banning armaments in all college and university surroundings.


Conclusively, the legislation to compel states to make their colleges allow students and staff to carry firearms on campus is very dangerous to many degrees. The guns-on-campus law bears many risk factors that greatly put the lives of students, college staff, and the general society at risk. Carrying guns on campuses by students and staff members promotes increased dangers of bullying, self-harm, drug abuse, newer institutional liabilities, and active shootings and promotes fear among students. As much as supporters of the legislation say carrying guns will increase the safety of gun holders in colleges to solve the issue of mass shootings, the law promotes many risks, as mentioned, rather than working to reduce mass shootings. Everyone interested in promoting the general safety of students and staff in colleges, be it a student college lecturer, should do their best to oppose the passing and implementation of the legislation. Colleges should not allow their students and staff to carry guns on campus for the safety of all in society.

Works Cited

“How background checks and ‘red flag’ gun laws work.” PBS NewsHour, Accessed November 15 2023.

“Incidents on College Campuses that Allow Campus Carry – Safe Tennessee Project.” Safe Tennessee Project, Accessed November 15 2023.

Price, James H., and Jagdish Khubchandani. “Adolescent Homicides, Suicides, and the Role of Firearms: A Narrative Review.” American Journal of Health Education, vol. 48, no. 2, Mar. 2017, pp. 67–79,

Wesley, John, and Jennifer Proitt. “Thought & Action.” Preventing Violence or Promulgating Fear: ALEC, the NRA, and Guns on Campus, vol. 33, no. 1, 2017.

Williams, Brian H. Bodies Keep Coming: Dispatches from a Black Trauma Surgeon on Racism, Violence, and How We Heal. 1517 Media, 2023.


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