A university should not be a place where you have to worry about getting shot.
However, this horrific circumstance has become a reality as gun violence continues to grow in the United States. Just this past October, Alexis McCluskey, a University of Utah student, was shot and killed on campus.
One way to prevent this dreadful thing from happening again is to prohibit open carry on campuses.
There are currently 10 states that allow open carry on campus; however, Utah is the only state that has a statute specifically stating that colleges and universities are public entities and cannot ban concealed carry. This statute is Utah Code 53B-3-103.
Therefore, all 10 public higher education facilities in Utah allow concealed weapons on their campuses.
Many say that open carry allows for good citizens to stop those doing harm — that a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. According to The Trace, a nonprofit news organization, this claim is misplaced.
The Trace writers Evan Defilippis and Devin Hughes explain: “An FBI report detailing 160 active shooting incidents from 2000-2013 found that only one incident was stopped by a concealed carry permit holder, and he happened to be a Marine. By comparison, 21 active shooters were stopped by unarmed citizens — good guys without guns. In several cases, a good guy with a gun has attempted to intervene and either been killed, injured or nearly shot the wrong person.”
More guns do not make the situation safer; it only creates more opportunity for harm.
This opportunity increases tenfold in college-aged people because of their high probability to engage in reckless behavior such as binge drinking, drug use and fighting. The Trace reports multiple times where simple disagreements led to someone being shot.
Due to this unpredictability, campus police should be the ones to keep the university safe. These people are trained and better equipped to handle high-stress situations. As students, faculty and staff we should be able to trust those with the power to protect us to do so.
Advocates for concealed carry also cite the Second Amendment, which states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
However, every constitutional amendment has its limits, including the right to bear arms.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”
Simply, the college campus is not a place where students, faculty or staff should have guns.
Thirteen chiefs of police at different University of Wisconsin campuses published an open letter voicing their opposition to the state’s campus carry law.
“Our colleges do not need more guns,” the letter read. “Guns do not belong in our classrooms, student centers, laboratories, workout facilities, locker rooms, offices, residence halls or athletic venues.”
Instead, Utah legislature should either ban carrying a concealed weapon on campuses as 10 other states do, or even leave it up to the individual university to decide as another 23 states do. However, having an overreaching policy to allow guns on campus only provides room for harm.
If you agree that Utah’s open carry laws should be changed, call or email representative Chris Stewart at (435) 627-1500 or https://stewartforms.house.gov/contact/.