Weapons 101

What role do guns have on a college campus? Virginia institutions have come down firmly on the issue, but others have loaded opinions.

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The fear culture in Virginia Colleges And UniversitiesCreating a Fearful Culture

Proponents of looser regulations concerning firearms on campus are staunch and persistent in their convictions, but they nevertheless hold an opinion that puts them, as data suggests, in a significant minority. There are no nationwide or local studies on the mood toward guns on college campuses, but a recent study by University of Toledo public health professors James Price and Amy Thompson, published in the Journal of Community Health late last year, found that 94 percent of respondent professors at 15 randomly selected universities in the Great Lakes states were against permitting concealed weapons on campus. Professors Price and Thompson found anti-gun sentiment strong among students, too,
though not quite as high. In a study to be published soon in the Journal of American College Health, Price and Thompson found that 79 percent of student respondents were opposed to concealed weapons on campus.

“I don’t think guns belong in a schoolsetting at all,” says Erin Gallagher, a double political science and American studies major at CNU. “Elementary, high school or college.” Gallagher, a junior from Arlington, says that guns on campus create an unnecessary culture of fear and violence, even if they’re concealed. She envisions too much that can go wrong—a dorm-mate with access to a weapon he or she shouldn’t have, a concealed weapons holder standing his ground when the smart thing to do would be to flee for safety.

In this day and age, universities have alert systems that can disseminate a lot of information quickly. Gallagher recalls an incident her freshman year when there was an armed robbery near campus. School officials let students and faculty know at once. “We have an effective alert system,” she explains. “The school will e-mail and text, and not only keep students aware of the situation, but they let them know what steps they should take to stay safe.” Students and faculty, she believes, should leave weapons to the police.