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Campuses ask about firearm policy change


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College campuses across the country are considering new rules that would allow students to carry concealed firearms as a method of preventing sexual assault.

Lawmakers in Florida, Nevada, Indiana, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming have all proposed bills that would allow students to carry firearms on college campuses.

Gun lobbyists are supporting legislation allowing concealed firearms to be carried in light of the recent events like the mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007 where 32 students and faculty members were killed and the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 that killed 26 people.

Gun-free zones leave people vulnerable and unable to protect themselves against potentially violent crimes, argues proponents for concealed firearms on campuses. One of these proponents is the Students for Concealed Carry, a national non-partisan group.

“I think everybody should be allowed to carry a firearm as part of self-defense as long as they have taken classes,” instructor Richard Mitchell at Atlantic Tactical Firearms Training said. “There is a difference between targets on the street and targets on the range, and you have to be very careful about the type of ammo and firearm you use. You also should be trained to shoot defensively.”

The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, however, says that, “Allowing guns on campus could, in fact, make mass shootings even worse.”

Opponents of the legislation also have argued that guns should not be used in places where there are large amounts of binge drinking and alcohol-related incidents like college campuses.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that about four out of five college students drink alcohol and that over 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.

“The issue for me has nothing to do with the philosophical debate of the meaning of the second amendment or the right to bear arms,” Salisbury University Police Lieutenant and Investigative-Support Services Commander Brian Waller said. “When you have individuals who are still developing their level of maturity, their thinking is altered by alcohol and other drugs, adding firearms to the mix cannot be a good idea.”

In Maryland concealed carry permits are limited to people who can prove that they have a “good and substantial reason” for carrying a handgun and that the permit is necessary.  On SU’s campus, Waller said that most of the population would not be able to meet the standard imposed by Maryland to obtain a permit.

Waller also said that oftentimes, alleged victims consent to some sexual activities but not to others. In those situations, he says it can be impractical to rely on a gun as a means of self-defense.

A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice concluded that 38 percent of rapes are committed by a friend or acquaintance of the victim.

“If you have a rape situation, usually it starts with some sort of consensual behavior, and by the time it switches to nonconsensual, it would be nearly impossible to run for a gun,” National President of One in Four John D. Foubert told the New York Times.

Likewise, a study conducted in 2009 by the American Journal of Public Health found that guns did not protect people carrying them from being shot in an assault.

“If you did something in the heat of the moment and you’re wrong I think it’s much better from an ethical standard you’re not causing a lot of lasting effects on someone,” Waller said. “And I think that’s a consideration that should be made.”

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