Political leaders consider whether to allow guns on college campuses

Posted May 7, 2017


The Second Amendment to the Constitution allows American citizens the right to bear arms. However, the amendment does not specify when or where we have this right. Laws related to this controversial amendment may began to affect people in places where they feel the most safe, like college campuses.

Americans will always have the right to bear arms under the constitution (Photo by Courtney Adelman).

During the past few years, safety on college campuses has become a major issue. A big part of the safety concern across the nation is availability and use of guns.

Most recently, the arguments involving campus gun control has been directed to whether or not guns should be allowed on university and college campuses.

Recent state legislation supporting what is called “open carry” around the nation has brought national attention to the issue on the campus level.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, currently Arkansas and Georgia are the only two states that allow faculty, staff and students to carry guns. Georgia’s bill is waiting for the final signature from the governor, but the Arkansas law will go into effect in September 2017.

Although Arkansas and Georgia are the only two states with specific legislation, about 33 states have introduced legislation in the past four years to allow concealed carry on campus in some form. In some states, individual colleges or universities decide their concealed carry weapons policies.

In Texas, for example, students are allowed to carry their handguns if they have a license. However, it depends on the college they attend to determine specifically where they are allowed to carry the gun, as opposed to Arkansas and Georgia public universities where students will be allowed to carry it everywhere on campus.

As this issue moves forward, more college campuses are allowing people to have guns in some capacity. In Florida, for example, a person may legally possess a firearm in his or her personal vehicle at any public college or university. This is also allowed at private schools. However, a private school has the ability to impose sanctions.

With such lax gun laws in Florida, residents are starting to wonder if, in the near future, students, staff and faculty will be allowed to openly carry firearms around public colleges and universities.

Shelby Abrahamson, a Miami-Dade County police officer, said allowing guns on campuses is risky.

“There needs to be stricter background checks. It is too easy to get a gun and allowing them on college campuses could create unnecessary problems. People’s brains are not fully developed by the time they are 18, 19, or 20 and so students walking around campus with firearms could be very dangerous,” she said.

“We live in a time where society doesn’t know how to handle their emotions. If people have their gun on their person and they get mad in a stressful situation, there is no telling what could happen,” Abrahamson added. “We are seeing more and more young kids get guns and when you are not emotionally stable and you have a gun, bad things will happen.”

In the current world of social media, we are also conditioned to witness violence.

“Around 60 percent to 80 percent of entertainment includes violence,” observed University of Miami media management professor Ana Francois. “This means society is surrounded by violence and, due to media effects, seeing this much violence could potentially cause students or even faculty to act on what they have seen in their life.”

Melissa Drova, a Florida physiologist, said mental health issues are her concern. She believes college students are under a lot of stress and are susceptible to mental illnesses. Around 26 percent of Americans ages 18 and older suffer from depression.

“There should be some way to prove mental stability. Too many people have mental health issues and too many people with a mental health issue have been able to get their hands on guns. Unfortunately, many people who have mental health issues are unaware that they have these issues and when they receive a gun it could be dangerous,” she explained.

“There needs to be some way to determine if people are mentally stable enough to have their own gun. This would also allow people to get the proper help they need if they have a mental health problem and it would endure that the wrong people wouldn’t get their hands on guns.”

With the potential for guns on campus, people who do not have guns are scared. This would completely change the college environment for the better in some people’s opinions, or in contrast, for the worse.

Trevor Green, a journalism and multimedia media professor at UM, stated that he would feel threatened if he was teaching a class and multiple students had guns in their backpacks.

Juliet Erez, a professor at Florida International University, fears for the possibility of guns on campus.

The entrance to Florida International University is one of the many places that students would be able to carry fire arms (Photo by Mj Melendez).

“We have the right to bear arms in this country, so being that FIU is a public university, there is the serious potential that I could see students or faculty walking around with guns. Personally, I am just scared for my own safety,” Erez said.

Mj Melendez a student at Florida International University, believes that since this is a public university, America doesn’t have the right to say that students or faculty cannot have their guns.

It is about teaching people gun safety and making sure that guns don’t get in the wrong hands,” Melendez said.

Florida International University’s Police Department feels that it would be prepared if students and faculty were allowed to walk around with guns due to events in past years that have called attention to the need to be ready for a wide range of emergencies.

A shooting range in Hialeah. One of the many places that Britt Stevenson has enjoyed practicing his hobby (Photo by Sidney Sterling).

Similarly, the University of Miami Department of Public Safety would also be prepared. Tragedies at Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech have caused campuses across the country to reassess their preparedness.

Gun owners and people who have grown up around guns feel very strongly about the gun control issue and have no problem with allowing guns on college campuses.

Britt Stevenson, an employee at the gun store Security and Firearms on South Dixie Highway in Miami, believes that, as long as people have their licenses to carry and know how to use guns safely, there should be no problem.

“Guns are fun and they have been my hobby for a long time. No one should be limited to that. It is not the gun that kills people, people kill people,” Stevenson said. “I do not see the problem with guns being allowed on public campuses. If they are allowed then everyone might as well get one.”