As of right now, colleges and universities within the state of West Virginia have full authority to place regulations or bans on the carrying of a concealed weapon anywhere on campus, including property grounds.
However, recently there has been a wave of people wanting to alter the laws concerning gun control. Some are more concerned with taking actions such as arming teachers in schools to better protect their students, while others just wish for tighter requirements to be set for those who would like to purchase a gun.
There has also been a debate across the country over whether it is safer to allow college students to carry concealed weapons, or to ban them altogether. As a state, until now we have left it up to individual colleges and universities to determine what they think is best. However, House Bill 4298, the concealed campus carry bill, would make it mandatory for colleges and universities to allow students to carry concealed weapons, if passed.
Still, the reasons behind why it is crucial to have these sorts of regulations should be addressed.
First, let’s consider the age group that is being targeted by this movement. Most college attendees are young adults, with the average age range being just upwards of 18. This means that those who are in their prime “party-age,” being 21 or older, are also included. At least on a monthly basis, we can see evidence of the harm that reckless behavior from this age group causes. They have access to nearly any substance they could want, which typically leads to partying, but also bad habits and potentially violence. Allowing concealed carry on campus greatly increases the risk of incidents occurring.
Over the years, we have all witnessed what can happen when someone under the influence gets angry, and having regulations on the carrying of any kind of weapon on the grounds of a university can help prevent these sorts of incidents from happening.
Additionally, it is important to allow individual establishments to decide if they want to allow weapons on their property or not. It is clear that the citizens of our state, as well as many others, do not want complete gun control laws to go into effect, which is fine. Still, colleges are a topical area for debate.
For example, universities often serve as locations for rallies or protests, which always have the opportunity to turn dangerous. Giving each school the right to make their own regulations, instead of alternatively forcing them to allow concealed carry, can make colleges and universities a safer environment. Standards that match a school’s unique design and make up can be created and put into effect by the administrators. Those who run the university would be the ones who get an onslaught of blame placed upon them if anything were to occur, and therefore should be given the jurisdiction to decide what they believe is safest for their students.
On the other end of the argument, there are more and more points being raised in support of allowing concealed carry on college campuses. One such argument states that if students are allowed to carry weapons with them, it may deter outside threats from potentially attacking the school or any of its students. While this may have been true for a few specific cases, recent research contradicts this belief.
According to research by scholars at Johns Hopkins University, in general, gun deaths are more likely to be connected to personal disputes or domestic violence than mass shootings. They believe this trend is also true on college properties as well, with incidents involving guns being more likely related to interpersonal conflict than large, random attacks.
With this in mind, it can be concluded that having more guns on a campus, especially without any sort of regulation, can lead to more of these small, personal incidents that could ultimately be lethal for those involved.
Overall, it is likely that the controversy surrounding gun control will not be resolved for many years to come. There are so many different sides and opinions surrounding the issue, and many groups are unwilling to relinquish their own values, or even hear out those who oppose them.
It would be wise to continue to allow schools to make their own rules regarding concealed carry. Different administrators may see the need to allow students the right to self-defense, or may view things in the opposite manner. Ultimately, giving them the right to choose gives them control over their college or university, but no matter what they decide, not everyone will be pleased.