Topic: College of Sciences and Humanities

September 9, 2013

The vast majority of students at 15 Midwestern colleges and universities do not want concealed handguns on their campuses, says a new study from Ball State University.

“Student Perceptions and Practices Regarding Carrying Concealed Handguns on University Campuses” found that 78 percent of students in the Midwest oppose allowing concealed handguns on campuses and would not obtain a permit to carry one, if it were made legal.

The study surveyed 1,649 undergraduate college students and was recently published in the Journal of American College Health.

“Firearm morbidity and mortality are major public health problems that significantly impact our society,” said study co-author Jagdish Khubchandani, a member of Ball State’s Global Health Institute and a community health education professor in the university's Department of Physiology and Health Science.

“The issue of allowing people to carry concealed weapons at universities and colleges around the U.S. has been raised several times in recent years,” he said. “This is in spite of the fact that almost four of every five students are not in favor of allowing guns on campus.”

Khubchandani pointed out that gun violence is largely attributed to the extensive presence of firearms across the country. Firearms possession has repeatedly been linked to increased risks of violent death. Individuals with access to firearms have a 17-fold higher risk of suicide.

The study also found:

• About 16 percent of undergraduate students own a firearm and 20 percent witnessed a crime on their campus that involved firearms.

• About 79 percent of students would not feel safe if faculty, students, and visitors carried concealed handguns on campus.

• About 66 percent did not feel that carrying a gun would make them less likely to be troubled by others.

• Half did not know whether their university had a policy regarding firearms on campus.

• Most students also believed that allowing concealed carry guns would increase the rate of fatal suicides and homicides on campus.

“The study also found that students who perceived there to be advantages to carrying concealed handguns on campus were significantly more likely to be males, firearm owners, victims of crime on- or off-campus and binge drinkers,” Khubchandani said. “However, the majority of woman said there were more disadvantages to carrying handguns on campus. These were women who did not own firearms and did not have a firearm in the home growing up.”

The study is part of a series conducted by Khubchandani examining firearm violence in the United States. He found in 2009 the majority of the campus police chiefs supported the idea of informing students and parents about “no firearms” on campus policy, expelling students who bring firearms on campus, being prepared and creating rigid policies and effective practices to reduce firearm violence and mass shootings on campuses.