Lack of Research
Getting past the “he said/she said” nature of the debate requires hard data, but evidence supporting either side is scarce. Proving correlation is even more difficult. All the same, advocates point out that the few colleges that have allowed guns have not had increases in crime and, in some cases, have seen a decrease. In terms of arguing that campuses should not be exempt from the law of the land where concealed carry is permitted, the absence of evidence of harm may be persuasive. But the National Research Council also concluded in 2005 that “despite a large body of research, the committee found no credible evidence that the passage of right-to-carry laws decreases or increases violent crime.”
For security professionals, the bottom line is simply how to develop policies that comport with the law if they are indeed required to allow concealed carry. Some say that as long as the schools obey the law, they really wouldn’t have to get involved in making any special rules to deal with the presence of guns on campus. Others do see a need for special policies.
At the University of Utah, where concealed weapons are allowed, “there are some special procedures for entering athletic events,” explains spokesperson Remi Barron. “For example, the person must declare they have the weapon and show a permit.”
Barron further notes that “students in residential housing can opt to have a roommate with no permit or weapon,” but no student has made such a request. The school has not had to arrest anyone for a weapons permit violation.
Some security professionals would like to see schools that they work with have some sort of control over carriers of concealed weapons. Timm says that if he were a security chief on a campus, he would want to know who has guns and he would want to do an outreach campaign and awareness program to make sure their licenses were up to date, that they had training, and that they were storing the weapon properly.
But Timm adds that it would be difficult to do any type of registration of individuals with guns. Compliance is always a challenge, he notes. “We already have difficulty having students sign up for our mass notification systems.”
Linda Watson, CPP, security consultant with Whirlaway Group LLC, says, “I do think that they need to register that they are persons that would be carrying on campus. I think that they would need to follow all the best practices in security industry standards and address that.”