Letter to the Editor: The moral case for campus carry
Licensed students, staff, and faculty should be allowed to carry guns on college and university campuses. Fears that allowing campus carry would increase violence are simply unfounded and promote a mistaken perception of gun carriers.
The hard data is revealing: those who are licensed to carry concealed weapons are extremely law abiding. License revocation rates for Florida (which currently accounts for 1.3 million of over 11.1 million current licensees nationwide) are extremely low. While Florida has issued over 2.6 million licenses since 1987, the annual rate of firearms-related violations by licensed carriers is only 0.31 per 100,000. To understand just how low this number is, consider that the national rate of firearms violations for police is 6.9 per 100,000 officers.
Many opponents of campus carry argue that college age students are more prone to excessive alcohol consumption and other reckless behavior. While this may be true when considering college students in general, this does not take into account the fact that license holders tend to be more law-abiding than non-license holders across all age groups. The common stereotype of college students as reckless party animals simply does not apply to those subset of students who are licensed to carry concealed weapons.
Another objection is that if students and faculty are allowed to carry weapons on campus, then police officers responding to a mass shooting or crime will have difficulty distinguishing the ‘good guys’ from the ‘bad guys.’ But this objection goes too far, as it applies to any situation in which the police encounter a victim who is successfully resisting an attack. If the mere possibility of mistaken identity is enough to justify a ban on campus gun-carrying, then it would also justify a ban on any kind of forceful self-defense measure.
Finally, some claim that guns don’t belong in the classroom. But why think this? It is absurd to think that one forfeits the right to defend his life simply by entering a classroom. The right of self-defense is essential to our very dignity as human beings. Although we may sometimes partially delegate this responsibility to others, we can never delegate it completely. Even in the most secure college campus, the police response to an active shooter is measured in minutes. But when seconds matter, it is up to students and faculty to defend their own lives. And they cannot do this without a reasonable and effective means of self-defense.
All things considered, a ban on campus carry violates the right of self-defense.
Hsiao is an adjunct professor in the Department of Communication and Philosophy at FGCU, focusing on applied ethics, sexual ethics, and social philosophy.