Guns on Campus, Discouraging News

Although guns may not be allowed on Montana campuses (See “Several Indications of Common Sense on Guns on Campus,”, five state universities in Pennsylvania are now allowing guns to be carried on their campuses.

The five universities are Edinboro University, Kutztown University, Millersville  University, Shippensburg University, and Slippery Rock University.

One wonders what statistics the presidents of those universities had been looking at when contemplating this decision. Either those campuses are extraordinarily violent places—in which case, this is not the best way to reassure prospective students about their safety—or the statistics simply do not support the need for such action.

In Fall 2011, there were 19.7 million students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities.

Between 2009 and 2011, the years covered in the 2012 report on campus crime, there were 49 murders on college and university campuses nationwide: 18 in 2009, 15 in 2010, and 16 in 2011.

Without attempting to minimize the horror of mass murders such as those at Virginia Tech in 2007, the statistics from 2009 through 2011 suggest that our campuses must be among the safest places in the nation.

In 2011, there was a one in 1,231,250 chance that a student attending a college or university campus would be murdered while on campus. That’s approaching Powerball odds.

If one looks at other types of violent crime, the numbers are considerably higher, but, in proportion to the total number of students and in comparison to the broader national numbers, they are still very low.

Between 2009 and 2011, 11,080 sexual assaults were reported: 3263 in 2009, 3620 in 2010, and 4197. There is considerable evidence that sexual assaults have been under-reported on many campuses, but there is no comparable evidence that the broader category of aggravated assaults has been similarly under-reported. Between 2009 and 2011, there were 14,094 aggravated assaults on our campuses: 4,798 in 2009, 4,653 in 2010, and 4,643 in 2011.

So, in 2011, there was a one in 4243 chance that a student would be assaulted on campus.

As a point of comparison, in 2011, 751,131 aggravated assaults were reported in the United States. Rounding the population to 310,000,000, that or a one in 413 chance of any individual’s being the victim of such an attack.

But the ever-increasing number of mass murders and especially those that stand out for having occurred at our schools have continued to undermine our sense of our children’s safety and our own safety in what are supposed to be—and statistically still are–safe havens.

So, instead of pursuing some common-sense measures to try to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally unstable, gun advocates propose that we resort to the counterintuitive and make guns more prevalent.

It is the equivalent of addressing traffic fatalities on congested roads by funneling even more cars onto those roads, or creating congestion on even more roads–, perhaps more to the point, encouraging the worst drivers, including the uninsured and unlicensed, to take the most congested roads.

And, ironically, this counterintuitive approach has created new entrepreneurial opportunities. Shortly after the massacre at Sandy Hook, a company began offering bulletproof backpacks.

Now a Maryland company called Hardwire is marketing bulletproof whiteboards and clipboards.


I am not sure, however, how the small whiteboards serve a useful pedagogical purpose. If they can be removed easily from the walls in an emergency, how does one keep them from falling off on the students who may be trying to write on them?

But if a small school district in Minnesota is willing to spend $25,000 on these bulletproof shields (see NPR’s “Bulletproof Whiteboards and the marketing of School Safety”:, I can only guess at how much the presidents of Edinboro University, Kutztown University, Millersville  University, Shippensburg University, and Slippery Rock University are planning to spend on them.

Or, perhaps I am missing the point: if a sufficient number of students and faculty are armed, incidents will be settled more simply in a quick hail of bullets, making the bulletproof whiteboards an unnecessary extravagance.

8 thoughts on “Guns on Campus, Discouraging News

  1. Pingback: 5 PA campuses no longer gun-free

  2. Is the use of guns as a means of deterring crime and/or defending oneself really counter intuitive to you? How then do you justify the use of guns by law enforcement officials, or shopkeepers or security personnel? To suggest that allowing guns on campus is “the equivalent of addressing traffic fatalities on congested roads by funneling even more cars onto those roads, or creating congestion on even more roads” is simply laughable. You apparently base your opinion on a simple but flawed premise that guns are dangerous and can serve no other purpose. You are wrong! As for the entrepreneurs who have developed bullet proof devices. Of course you are opposed. Making people safe doesn’t fit your agenda. You only like to use that excuse to implement more gun laws. Let’s face it. You don’t like guns. In your mind they’re icky. .

    • Law enforcement and security personnel are trained to use weapons, and yet the limited studies on the very low level of accuracy with which law enforcement have used guns in armed confrontations does not support any claims that armed citizens necessarily make anyone safer (see the recent extensive study on weapons use by NYC police officers, arguably one of the best-trained police forces in the nation, if not the world).

      The reference to shopkeepers is simply not illustrative of anything. Shopkeepers can choose to be armed or not, but, again, their being armed does not necessarily make their customers or them any safer.

      I don’t find guns “icky”–that’s your word, not mine–but to say that they are not dangerous is, to use your words, “simply laughable.” They can be used safely, or not, but they are inherently dangerous.

      In fact, my fundamental concern is that there are too many people carrying guns who are too casual about how dangerous they are. You can’t pop off about how guns are essential to self-defense and crime deterrence and then, within the space of several sentences, object to my “simple but flawed premise” that guns are dangerous. If they weren’t dangerous, how would they provide any meaningful level of self-defense or deterrence?

      • Guns are no more dangerous than knives. Both can be useful tools or deadly. Both can hurt someone. The difference? Guns have been demonized by left wing political groups for decades and have been confiscated by some because they provide a means of defense not obtainable with a knife.

        Do you think China would still be Communist right now if the people had guns? I doubt it because the Tiananmen Square protests would have led to a revolution. Governments take away guns because they know it helps control the people which is why our founding fathers added 2A.

        To get back on point; “the equivalent of addressing traffic fatalities on congested roads by funneling even more cars onto those roads, or creating congestion on even more roads” comment is laughable. Just because the campuses are allowing carry doesn’t mean any more people will have guns than did before. Those that already had them will carry if they want to and contrary to left wingers beliefs, not everyone does. The purpose is to deter criminal activity by making criminals question whether or not their victim will be armed.

        It is public knowledge that James Holmes chose a theater with a ban on legal carry. Considering there were theaters closer to his home that didn’t have this restriction I would think it was an intentional choice.

  3. So a person has to go through multiple background checks, first to purchase a pistol, then to get a license to carry that pistol.

    You are worried about licensed adults (21+ for PA to lawfully carry) carrying around you legally?

  4. Also, might I add, the factual evidence eliminates your “hail of bullets”. FBI stats show most defensive situations are solved without shooting, and those that do involve return fire last a mere 3 seconds.

    This isnt hollywood or TV.

  5. Pingback: Giving a Whole New Meaning to “Concealed Carry” and a Brief Rumination on What It Might Mean in the College Classroom | Academe Blog

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