Policies allowing civilians to bring guns on college campuses are unlikely to reduce mass shootings on campus and are likely to lead to more shootings, homicides and suicides on campus, especially among students, a new study concludes.
The study, which also included researchers at Stanford and the University of Massachusetts, Boston, looked at research on right-to-carry gun laws and data about mass shootings in public spaces. What researchers found was that neither “gun-free” zones nor carry laws have an impact on mass shootings. Though civilian gun carrying and mass shootings are both up, armed citizens are seldom able to prevent or interrupt such events. However, researchers say, proposals to allow guns on campuses would likely lead to more lethal assaults and suicide attempts, which are far more common than mass shootings on campuses.
“Proponents of right-to-carry laws that make it legal for individuals to carry firearms, both on and off college campuses, often blame mass shootings on ‘gun-free zones’ and argue that arming more civilians can deter or stop mass shootings,” report author Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, said in a statement. “The best available evidence, however, does not support these claims.”
Maryland does not have a state law allowing concealed carry on campus. Rather, that’s a decision left to individual institutions, and any person who wishes to carry a concealed weapon must apply for a permit through Maryland State Police. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia don’t allow students to carry firearms on campus, while eight others have laws that allow some degree of concealed carry on college campuses.
Of the 111 so-called high-fatality mass shootings, where six or more were killed, dating back to 1966, just 13 had taken place in a gun-free zone.
“Interestingly, not only do the vast majority of high-fatality mass shootings not occur in ‘gun free zones,’” says Louis Klarevas of the University of Massachusetts, Boston, “there is also little evidence that mass shooting perpetrators seek out ‘gun-free zones’ for their attacks.”
The report also took into account behaviors common on college campuses, alcohol use and cognitive development of college-age individuals.
“Increasing gun availability in campus environments could make these common acts of aggression or self-harm more deadly,” Webster said. “While the net effect of right-to-carry policies have negatively impacted public safety broadly, the effects are likely to be far more deleterious when extended to college campuses. Allowing students to carry firearms on college campuses would likely compromise the lives and safety of innocent students, faculty and staff.”