Seventy-eight percent of students surveyed said they opposed concealed handguns on campus and would not obtain a permit to carry a handgun if it were legal, according to a study by Ball State University that surveyed 15 Midwestern universities.
Students in the survey said they would not feel safe if faculty, students and visitors had weapons on campus. The survey said about 66 percent of the 1,649 students surveyed said carrying a gun would not make them feel less likely to be troubled by others.
Ball State researcher Jagdish Khubchandani said the conducted study should be used to help lawmakers decide whether to allow concealed-carry permit holders to bring guns to campuses.
“To me, it’s clear that we need to have decision-making on this idea,” Khubchandani said in the study. “But the people that should be involved are the students and the campus police chief instead of a policymaker.”
The study did not name the universities that were surveyed.
Capt. Russell Shaw, associate director of Department of Public Safety, said that if someone was going to bring a gun on campus, they would need to take certain precautions.
“(People) should know that if they are going to come onto our campus, they should have their weapons stored in their vehicle somehow,” Shaw said. “I certainly wouldn’t recommend that because you never know what could happen.”
Shaw said DPS allows students to store their weapons in the office while students live in residence halls, or just for safe-keeping. Students need to give 24-hour notice before retrieving their weapons.
Shaw went on to say that although weapons are banned on Marquette’s campus, the concealed-carry law is still in effect for the rest of the city, so there is nothing DPS or the Milwaukee Police Department can do to force people not to carry guns.
In keeping with the results of the study, Tom Porter, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, said that allowing guns on campus would not make him feel increasingly safe.
“In fact, it would probably make me feel more unsafe,” Porter said. “I think there is a certain maturity needed to handle weapons, and although we have plenty of mature kids here, I don’t think it would be a benefit to have armed students. We have DPS here for a reason … let them handle that sort of protection.”
Tommy Volberding, sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, disagreed and said allowing guns would be beneficial to students.
“Of course (it makes me feel more safe),” Volberding said. “If (I had a gun) I wouldn’t be afraid of anyone.”
All 50 states have some form of a concealed carry law, with Illinois becoming the last state to adopt such a law in July. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 state legislatures introduced bills in 2013 to allow concealed carry on campuses, and two of them failed. The conference also said that five states tried to pass laws preventing guns on campuses in 2013, and they all failed.
Several universities in the past tried to find a medium between completely banning guns on campuses and allowing them outright. The University of Colorado-Boulder set aside an entire dorm for students with concealed-carry permits to live. In 2012, news reports said no students asked to live there, however.
Shaw said the results of the study are to be expected in the wake of recent mass shootings.
“I can totally understand (the students’) mindset,” Shaw said, “and unfortunately, with all the shootings that have occurred, it’s going to make someone very uneasy.”