New legislation would allow students on college campuses to carry handguns. Image: Flickr / teknorat / CC-BY-ND

Bills in more than a dozen state legislatures would allow guns on college campuses. Advocates claim that these laws will help make the campuses safer. Opponents, however, point out that increased availability of guns could increase the possibility of tragedy.

Guns on campus legislation

The many different pieces of legislation that would allow guns on college campuses in consideration. These bills would make it legal for students with proper permits to carry handguns in college classrooms. The legislation would also allow for those guns to be carried on campuses and, in some cases, in student housing. The legislation appears likely to pass at least one chamber of the legislature in Texas, Arizona and Idaho.

Why advocates want guns on campus

Advocates for this legislation argue that allowing students and professors to carry guns on college campuses would make the schools safer. The idea is that if a gunman tried to go on a killing spree, the victims would be able to fight back. Some are also framing it as a Second Amendment issue, saying that students are being stripped of their rights when they go onto college campuses. College campuses exist in a legal limbo of sorts because they’re neither a completely public space nor a privately owned space. Public or private, college campuses usually limit gun transport.

Arguments against guns on campus

College campuses have been the scenes of high-profile violence, and some say that guns on campus would make it even worse. In countries that have more stringent gun control laws, gun violence tends to be much lower. In addition, between 10 and 30 percent of students on college campuses experience some level of mental illness at some point during their time at the school. Current gun-control laws say that anyone with a history of mental illness is not allowed to purchase a weapon; those laws are not necessarily well-enforced, however. This could put weapons in the hands of more individuals, but there is no promise of additional security.

Sources

CNN: http://us.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/03/08/etzioni.guns.in.school/index.html

New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/20/health/20campus.html

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