Guns on Campus; A New Decision Factor for College Choice?

There is heavy debate in our country as to the best way to curtail the threat of active shooters in society. College and university campuses are a part of that larger debate; twenty-three campus shootings occurred in the first three quarters of 2015. Whether and/or to what degree guns are or are not permitted on campus, is a college decision factor families may want to consider.

In January 2016 the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA.) and the Education Commission of the States (ECS), issued a joint study titled, Guns on Campus: The Architecture and Momentum of State Policy Action. The study highlights that with gridlock at the federal level, states are taking action themselves and momentum is on the side of increased gun possession on campus. The detail of state laws is unique to each state and cannot be assumed by families – details include perquisite training for gun ownership, spaces on campus where guns are/are not allowed, reciprocity agreements across states, opt-out clauses.

Currently, nine states allow concealed carry permit holders to bring guns onto college campuses. In contrast, twenty states have effectively banned firearms on campuses. Legislation in all nine states allowing guns on campus has been recent 2011 - 2015. Conversely, twelve of the twenty states banning guns on campus enacted their laws prior to 2000.  In 2015 fifteen states considered legislation to allow guns on campus; one state considered legislation to ban guns on campus.  Only Texas passed legislation to allow and California passed legislation to ban guns on campus; the remaining thirteen states’ legislation died or remains pending (Ohio). 

States Allowing Guns on Campus: Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin.

States Prohibiting Guns on Campus: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Ohio, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Missouri, Tennessee, Wyoming

The safety of our children on campus is paramount and regardless of one’s perspective, the presence of guns on campus may now be a factor in college choice.

The joint NASPA-ECS study can be found here: