Presidents vs. Guns

Overwhelming majority of campus leaders oppose idea of allowing concealed weapons at their institutions, study finds.

June 4, 2014

Amid a national push by gun advocates to permit concealed carry on campuses, a new poll of college presidents found that 95 percent of them oppose measures to allow concealed weapons on campus. The reason cited by more than 9 out of 10 presidents was that concealed carry would lead to accidental shootings of students. And 65 percent of presidents are opposed to concealed weapons off campus, not just on campus.

The poll was conducted before last month's tragedy near the University of California at Santa Barbara, where six students were killed (three by shooting) by a disturbed man who vowed to punish college women for not finding him attractive.

Just over 400 college presidents responded to the survey -- a national sample from four-year institutions, public and private. The study was conducted by researchers at Ball State University and the University of Toledo and appears in The Journal of American College Health.

At least some presidents (a minority) have experience with owning guns. The survey found that 57 percent grew up in a home without a gun, and 79 percent did not own a firearm. Further, 5 percent of presidents have a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Nearly all of the presidents (98 percent) said they thought students and faculty members felt safe on their campuses. And 92 percent said they thought most faculty members and students would feel unsafe if concealed handguns were permitted.

Seven percent of the presidents reported that there had been a crime on their campus in the last year in which a firearm was used by the perpetrator.

Last year, after the tragic killings in Newtown, Conn., the Association of American Universities and College Presidents for Gun Safety issued letters calling for, among other things, gun control. While many presidents signed the letters, others declined to do so, prompting debate at some campuses.

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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