There are other aspects of college life that consultants and school security personnel cite as reasons for keeping guns off campus. One is the prevalence of drug and alcohol use among college students; another is the stage of mental development of college students.
“You have the largest population of 18-to-21-year olds experiencing unbridled freedom for the first time, making decisions that are often high-risk in terms of where they are in their life. They’re experimenting with drugs and alcohol and risky behavior. Inserting firearms into that mix is just not a wise move,” says Margolis.
Another concern is the potential distraction created by students carrying guns to class, not just for fellow students, who may be uncomfortable knowing others are carrying but also for teachers, who might feel threatened when dealing with a disgruntled student who may be carrying a weapon.
Opponents of guns on school grounds also question the potential benefit of having students or faculty who are carrying a concealed weapon when an active shooter situation arises. If anything, it could make the situation worse, opponents say. Margolis likens it to bringing gasoline to a fire. There is the potential that someone with a gun might be mistaken for a “bad guy” by law enforcement, for instance. There is also potential for someone who has a gun to use it on innocent individuals by accident.
Dan Pascale, senior director of emergency preparedness, communications, and security at the University of Chicago, says that with concealed carry in effect, law enforcement and first responders will not know who is carrying guns on campus, and that could make things tricky in an actual emergency situation. “If you were to take a case, such as any of the noted high-profile school shootings,” says Pascale, “and try to imagine a room full of students... and 10 or 12 students drawing weapons simultaneously, with no training, aiming at a potential armed suspect, the potential for collateral damage is... outrageous.”
There are also the normal risks associated with firearms that would come with any campus carry policy. These include the potential for firearm thefts and unintentional discharge.
Another concern expressed by opponents of guns on campus is the limited and potentially varied training required for a concealed carry permit in various states. Paul Timm, PSP, president of RETA Security Inc., recommends that sworn police be the only individuals on campus with guns for this reason. Some concealed carry legislation does not even require specified training and any training that is required will vary from state to state. Such training may be only once a year, notes Timm. “And furthermore,” he says, “in any number of states, they’re not required to have background screenings on things like mental health or any kind of former anger management issues they’ve had.”