Two days after gunman unloaded on a church in Sutherland, Texas, lawmakers have introduced legislation for permit gun carriers into places previously off limits. And this includes college campuses.
The AP reported that the “Republican-controlled Michigan Senate began passing fast-tracked legislation” to re-designate schools, among other places, as no longer gun-free zones. Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said in a statement, "Anybody who wants to exercise their right to protect themselves and have a firearm should be able to do that where they need to." The senator was a sponsor of this bill that has already been approved by a committee on 3-2 party-line votes.
In Michigan, under the state’s law, it is currently illegal to carry “concealed weapons... in designated gun-free zones.” The recently introduced bill has been a source of concern for officials of the state’s many schools, who have begun pushing back against such security measures, as a full vote in the state’s chamber is expected to occur on Wednesday.
Many U.S. public colleges in about 11 states already allow students to carry guns, though with restrictions -- and many more schools are expected to increase the rights to carry. Business Insider reports that "Utah was the first state to allow guns on campus in 2004," while Georgia was the most recent in 2017.
A survey by U.S. News found that “103 colleges and universities reported that they allow students to carry firearms.” The survey found that 40 of those schools “have concealed carry policies, meaning eligible students can possess handguns across most of campus if the weapons are hidden from view.” Policies are a bit more restrictive on other campuses.
In 2017, there are at least 16 other schools that have proposed similar campus carry bills.
In an article, two professors argued that “The prevailing sentiments at many schools across the U.S. seem to suggest that institutions of higher learning likely don’t view campus carry as enhancing safety.”
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University, too, found that campus carry bills aren’t any more “effective in reducing victims’ risk of injury than other victim responses to attempted violent crimes.”
The tragedy at Sutherland, Texas, left over 20 people dead. And schools are going to have to determine on their own, outside of state laws, how to ensure continued safety on campuses, with or without guns.