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The Daily Tar Heel

Viewpoints: Keep campuses safe from guns

Read the opposite viewpoint here.

THE ISSUE: Some states are weighing the possibility of allowing students to carry concealed firearms on campus. Gun rights advocates claim such liberty allows for self-defense and would increase campus safety. Others believe that allowing concealed weapons poses a serious risk to students. Today, two members of the editorial board weigh in on this unique conception of campus protection.

Advocates for liberalized gun control laws like to say that guns don’t kill people, people do. But guns make it a whole lot easier. On a college campus, where students come to learn and grow, allowing students to carry guns — even for the stated purpose of protection — would only compound the problem of homicides, suicides and accidental gun deaths.

I have never personally felt the need to carry a weapon on campus and would definitely feel uncomfortable knowing that others were allowed. And while it is true that we as a society do not have the capacity to restrict all criminals from carrying guns everywhere, current laws are largely effective. Adding more firearms to the mix will not make anyone safer.

Imagine walking in and out of Lenoir and the Student Union, knowing that students around you are packing heat. This knowledge would definitely make me feel less, not more safe. Every loud noise, accidental trip or loud scream would make me feel uneasy.

Consider the levels of suicide and depression among students our age. A New England Journal of Medicine study found that in 2005, suicide deaths accounted for 40 percent more gun deaths than homicides. One third to four fifths of all suicides are impulsive and 53 percent of completed suicides use a gun. The statistics speak for themselves. Increasing accessibility to firearms for students on campus is dangerous and irresponsible.

Consider the levels of alcohol and drug abuse among college students. If a drunk or high student brandishes a weapon anywhere on campus, even if it is only as a joke, would the victim being armed really change anything?

The pro-gun lobby argues that criminals who want guns will get them anyway and that it should be made easier for people who want to defend themselves to get guns legally. But Seung Hui-Cho, the gunman who killed 33 students at Virginia Tech in 2007 as well as Jared Lee Loughner, the shooter of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, purchased their guns legally. Seung Hui-Cho eventually committed suicide, proving that the knowledge others could be armed would not have deterred him. Loughner’s rampage was in a grocery store in Arizona — a state in which regular citizens can carry concealed weapons. He knew there was a possibility others in the grocery store could have been armed, but went through with the shooting anyway.

In the end, we must realize college campuses are actually pretty safe. Most people don’t feel the need to carry weapons because shootings like the one at Virginia Tech are few and far between. Pro-gun lobbyists argue relaxed gun laws could prevent deaths, but no one knows for sure how many deaths the current strict on-campus laws have prevented.

In our society, we change laws in order to fix problems, but in this scenario, it is best to follow the saying: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Sam Jacobson is an editorial board member for the Daily Tar Heel. He is a senior political science major from Bethesda, Md. Contact him at

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