Handgun permits held by ‘about 5 per cent’ of US university leaders

Around 5 per cent of US university presidents hold a permit to carry a concealed handgun, according to a survey of 401 college leaders.

June 5, 2014

A new study from Ball State University, titled “University Presidents’ Perceptions and Practice Regarding the Carrying of Concealed Handguns on College Campuses”, found that about 95 per cent of respondents were opposed to allowing concealed handguns on their campus, with 91 per cent citing accidental shootings as the reason for their opposition.

However, although 79 per cent of those surveyed did not own a firearm at all, and 65 per cent were against allowing concealed handguns to be carried even off campus, around 20 respondents said that they had a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon.

When asked about the standards that should be met in order for an individual to be allowed to carry a concealed gun, the presidents thought a person should be required to pass a firearms training course (88 per cent); periodically practise at a firing range to maintain their skills (87 per cent); and show proof of a minimum of liability insurance in case the shooter wounded or killed an innocent person (86 per cent).

The research team, which also included faculty from University of Toledo in Ohio, carried out the survey before an incident near the University of California at Santa Barbara last month that left six students dead – three of them from gunshot wounds.

Although college campuses have traditionally been gun-free zones, such incidents, and lobbying from pro-firearm groups, have led to political pressures to permit concealed firearms on college campuses, study co-author Jagdish Khubchandani said.

Among the organisations campaigning for licensed adults to be allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus is Students for Concealed Carry, which describes itself as a “national, non-partisan, grassroots organisation composed of more than 43,000 college students, professors, college employees, parents of college students, and concerned citizens”.

The group believes that holders of state-issued concealed handgun licences should be allowed “the same measure of personal protection on college campuses that current laws afford them virtually everywhere else”.

“It is not surprising, given the common law legal implications and safety concerns of college campuses, that the vast majority of college presidents were opposed to a policy permitting concealed carrying of handguns on campus,” Dr Khubchandani said.

“The presidents’ views seem to be in line with their students. In 2013, we found that 78 per cent of college students at 15 Midwestern schools were strongly opposed to having guns on campus.”

chris.parr@tsleducation.com

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