Nevada, Florida, Texas, and Montana are among several states considering bills that would allow concealed weapons on college campuses. In Texas a bill passed the House and will move onto the Senate, and in Florida a bill cleared two Senate committees. If passed, the bills would allow those over the age of 21 that have a concealed carry permit to have weapons on campus. Allowing guns on college campuses would increase violence and the potential for tragic events.
The combination of guns and alcohol on college campuses would prove a deadly mix. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, four out of five college students drink, and half binge drink. Adding guns into an environment known for its alcohol and drug abuse seems like a lethal combination.
Students for Concealed Carry, a non-partisan grassroots organization working to legalize guns on campuses, explains that every state has laws prohibiting carrying your gun while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. “Legalizing concealed carry on college campuses,” they write, “would neither make it easier for college students to obtain firearms nor make it legal for a person to carry a firearm while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”
However, much like every state has laws against carrying a gun while under the influence, every state also has laws that prohibit driving while under the influence. Yet 1 in 5 college students admits to driving while drunk, and 40% of students acknowledge they have ridden in a car with a drunk driver. College students are more likely than other young adults to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel of the car, and if guns were allowed on college campuses, I believe college students would be more likely than other young adults to get drunk with firearms.
College students also experience more mental health problems, and increased access to guns could raise suicide rates on college campuses. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students and about one in twelve college students (that would be 154 people at Hamilton College) have a plan to commit suicide. What’s more, 54% of suicides involve firearms. Adding firearms—the most effective tool for committing suicide—to a high stress environment does not seem like the way to increase safety on college campuses.
Opinion polls show that the American public is split—43% equally support and oppose concealed carry laws. However, when Arkansas passed a similar law in 2013 to allow faculty to carry guns, provided they had a concealed carry permit, all public and private institutions opted out of it. Given the lives at stake, I’ll continue to watch with bated breath and hope that legislators across the nation—and in my home state, Nevada—work to keep our campuses safe and gun free.