Richard Florida is a co-founder and editor at large of CityLab and a senior editor at The Atlantic. He is a university professor in the University of Toronto’s School of Cities and Rotman School of Management, and a distinguished fellow at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate and visiting fellow at Florida International University.
As of 2016, nine state legislatures will allow for “campus carry.”
It’s the most American of reactions. In the wake of mounting mass shootings on college campuses—like the tragic massacre at the Umpqua Community College in Oregon that killed nine innocent people, and the more recent shooting of four students at Northern Arizona University—politicians like Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and several other GOP representatives say the best way to keep our campuses safe is to arm teachers and students.
Some states already allow faculty, students, and others to carry concealed handguns on campus—what’s often referred to as “campus carry.” Last year, the Texas legislature passed a law allowing guns on campus with the proviso that schools can limit the locations and people who are allowed to have guns in their possession. That law will become effective on August 1 of next year—the 50th anniversary of America’s first mass college shooting on Texas’s very own University of Texas campus. In the controversial aftermath of this decision, economics professor Daniel Hamermesh resigned his position at the university.
The map above, from ArmedCampuses.org, shows the campus gun policies for all 50 states. Nine states—Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Kansas, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Mississippi, and Texas (starting in 2016)—allow for campus carry. Nine more only allow concealed guns in parking lots and locked cars. Another 21 states defer to schools and universities themselves to permit or deny guns on campus: Schools including the University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Oregon, and Idaho State University, for instance, have chosen to allow guns, albeit with some restrictions. Only 11 states have outright prohibitions on carrying handguns on campus.
For me, the idea of guns on campus borders on the insane. (Maybe that’s because I teach at the University of Toronto, where not even the campus police carry guns.) The great bulk of empirical research on the subject shows that allowing more guns on campus or anywhere else leads directly to more gun deaths, while states with stricter gun control laws have fewer gun deaths.
Despite political rhetoric and the theory that more arms equals less violence, allowing guns on campus is huge mistake—one that will only lead to more tragedies in the future.