Moderated by Tom Sabulis
The General Assembly was still debating a bill late Thursday that would allow guns on college campuses and in churches. But no matter what happens this session, it seems the debate will continue among residents. Today, two Georgia Tech students argue the issue.
Commenting is open below.
By Andrew Mullins
No matter which college campus you visit, the question of firearms carry is a hot-button issue. At urban schools like Georgia Tech and Georgia State, the debate revolving around campus carry is especially relevant, as students are vulnerable to crime in dangerous parts of downtown and Midtown Atlanta. Most of the objections to campus carry come from student government associations, which cite a higher likelihood of suicide, accident and crime.
Georgia Tech has a crime issue. The realization that opponents to campus carry fail to confront is that criminals will attain and use firearms whether or not they are legal. It is, in fact, only vulnerable college students who are affected by a ban on campus carry. With the knowledge that an unarmed, stressed-out, Georgia Tech student is walking alone from the library with $5,000 of electronics in his or her backpack, robberies on campus are both easy and lucrative.
A bill to allow concealed carry on campus could radically change Georgia Tech’s crime scene. The perceived “quick and easy” muggings of Tech students would turn into risky hits. Last week’s defenseless student could be next week’s armed and alert pedestrian. With even the possibility that the next robbery could result in an armed confrontation, the crime rate would fall, and student safety would be more secure.
Think this idea is crazy? Look at the states that have implemented campus carry. Schools in Colorado, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Oregon and Utah have benefited from reduced crime rates as a result of campus carry laws. Georgia Tech dumps thousands of dollars into a police department and crime prevention, but continues to suffer from rising crime. Why not give students the right to protect themselves, like any other Georgia citizen?
Worried that campus carry would increase the suicide rate among stressed-out students? Keep in mind that students who can carry concealed must be 21 and often live off campus. Therefore, campus carry laws would have little impact on firearms possession in the home, and would not impact overall suicide numbers.
Worried that allowing campus carry will increase school shooting massacres? Think of what one gun-carrying student could have done to prevent the tragic Virginia Tech shootings. Indeed, college campuses without carry allowances leave students defenseless against crazed shooters — who obviously do not pay attention to campus carry laws.
As a concerned Georgia Tech student, all I ask is that Georgia lawmakers allow us to defend ourselves by passing campus carry laws. By following the models of the several campus-carry legal states, college students in Georgia — especially in urban Atlanta — will benefit from lower crime rates and increased student safety. College students are the next generation of workers, entrepreneurs and leaders.
Andrew Mullins, of Savannah, is chairman of College Republicans at Georgia Tech and a fourth-year biology major.
By Eran Mordel
I was initially in favor of allowing concealed carry guns on University System of Georgia campuses. However, after conversations with concealed carry advocates, members of the Board of Regents, members of the Georgia Tech administration and many students, I came to realize that allowing concealed carry on university campuses will not create a safe environment for students.
With student body presidents from eight different campuses, I signed a letter to elected officials expressing opposition to this measure. While this sentiment does not canvass every student’s opinion, our words stem from conversations and experiences that we have had in our leadership roles. For the first time, opposition to concealed carry has been publicly conveyed by all 19 members of the Board of Regents and the University System chancellor.
Maintaining the classroom environment as gun-free is critical to fostering open, balanced and non-threatening discussions, especially given the already high stress levels among many students. The collegiate environment is unique in its environmental risk factors that make the introduction of any gun a dangerous proposal. Students live and work in close proximity and constantly feel the pressure of schoolwork, finances and issues with friends and family. Add the prevalence of alcohol consumption and even substance abuse to the mix, and you often find an environment that is unusually conducive to physical conflicts and emotional breakdowns.
In the tragic case of an active shooter on campus, having guns present could undermine our campus safety officials’ ability to adequately protect students; officers can more easily identify potential criminals with guns. Time magazine stated that New York City police officers are able to hit their target 18 percent of the time in gunfights. An average student or faculty member, not having undergone rigorous law enforcement training, is likely to fare far worse, further complicating an already chaotic situation and unintentionally harming innocent bystanders.
Unfortunately, the topic of concealed carry is a byproduct of and overshadows the more critical issues on our campus: mental health and campus safety. Committing more resources to bettering the learning environment, and reducing the unnecessary stress students face, would go further in reducing crime, improving student life and changing the national approach.
Most crimes as reported by Clery Act alerts occur on the peripheries of campus where lighting at night is inadequate and little foot traffic exists. Adding more street lighting and enhancing transportation alternatives for those who live off campus could go a long way to address these concerns without the need for firearms.
Ultimately, concealed carry would likely make college campuses a more dangerous environment. Even if one could make an argument otherwise, it would be irresponsible to do so before addressing the bigger issues of mental health and campus safety.
Eran Mordel, student body president at Georgia Tech, is studying Industrial and Systems engineering. Born in Jerusalem, he was raised in Marietta.