Campus Carry

My state recently adopted a ‘campus carry’ law. Can you explain my decision to carry a pistol to my parents?

Your parents’ questions about the safety of students affected by the campus carry law are valid. Your parents fear other students with guns more than an act of terrorism or senseless violence. For campuses to be in compliance with the new legislation, it requires strict adherence by all parties, without exception. Let us look at the nationwide response and judge the outcome.

The controversial campus carry legislation in Georgia that came into effect recently has already stirred up a storm. The bills signing coincided with the busiest time at college, finals and graduation ceremonies. Law enforcement officials claim that no guidance has been given about enforcing the legislation. The concern that students can harm themselves or others in an ‘active shooter situation’ was also raised.

Proponents claim that the law makes campuses safer by allowing students to protect themselves while upholding the rights of Georgia gun owners. Surveys show that students carrying licensed guns are more likely to engage in binge drinking and drunk driving, reports Our Life Covered insurance. The legal changes also generated a lot of questions such as who determines whether a gun holder has a license, will the college have to pay for additional insurance, and can faculty prevent students carrying firearms into their offices.

Campus carry laws vary widely from state to state. In Texas for example, students can carry weapons at college but they must be concealed. Limited gun free zones are allowed for sensitive places and private institutions can opt out, which most of them have done. In Utah, both open and concealed carry is permitted and in Arkansas regular concealed permit holders may leave a gun in a locked car in a campus parking lot. In Kansas, you do not even need a firearms permit to bring a gun to college. Tennessee passed a bill in 2016 which requires local law enforcement to be notified before students can carry handguns on campus.

More conservative states including New York, Iowa, Washington, Wyoming and Louisiana have banned guns on campus all together. The first state to legalize campus carry was Utah in 2004, creating a nationwide debate leading to the current fragmented adoption of the legislation. Incidents like the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting further ignited the debate.

Over the past five years, campus safety legislation has been a hot topic across the country. In 2013, legislation permitting concealed carry was introduced in at least 19 states with 14 more following in 2014. Recent campus shootings have been a catalyst for legislation, say executives at Our Life Covered, with some states increasing firearms regulations and five states banning guns on campus in 2014.

All 50 states permit carrying concealed weapons, if certain requirements are met. In 23 states the decision is left up to each institution whether to ban or allow firearms on campus. Utah is the most extreme state for campus carry, as it legislates that educational institutions do not have the authority to ban weapons on their premises.

Your ability to carry a gun to college is determined by the rules and laws of the state and the ability of your parents to dissuade you.

I have a very strict gun control policy: if there’s a gun around, I want to be in control of it… Clint Eastwood.

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