2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Study: Most college presidents don’t want guns on campus

Published: June 25, 2014, 11:18 am, by Debbie Kelley

antigunAn overwhelming majority of college and university presidents want to keep their campuses gun free, according to a new study from Ball State University.

The survey, titled “University Presidents’ Perceptions and Practice Regarding the Carrying of Concealed Handguns on College Campuses,” found that about 95 percent of respondents opposed allowing concealed handguns on campus and about 91 percent cited accidental shootings of fellow students as the greatest disadvantage of allowing concealed weapons.

“Currently available data indicates that college campuses are one of the safest places in communities for college-age students, and college leaders want to keep it that way,” study co-author Jagdish Khubchandani stated in a release. He is a member of Ball State’s Global Health Institute and a community health education professor.

Researchers, who included faculty from the University of Toledo in Ohio, surveyed 401 college chief executives and found that 79 percent did not own a firearm. Fifty-seven percent indicated they grew up in a home without a gun. About 5 percent of presidents had a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun.

College campuses have traditionally been gun-free zones, but recent mass shootings on campuses and lobbying from pro-firearm groups have led to political pressures to permit concealed firearms on college campuses, Khubchandani said.

The presidents’ views seem to be in line with college students, Khubchandani said, pointing to a 2013 survey that found that 78 percent of college students at 15 Midwestern schools were strongly opposed to having guns on campus.

The study on college presidents’ views, which recently was published in the Journal of American College Health, also found:

  • About 98 percent of the presidents thought students and faculty felt safe on their campuses.
  • Additionally, 92 percent said most faculty and students would feel unsafe if faculty, students and visitors carried concealed handguns.
  • Nearly 81 percent said they did not avoid places around campuses out of concern for their safety.
  • Seven percent reported a crime on their campus in the past year where the perpetrator used a firearm
  • About 65 percent of respondents were against allowing concealed handguns off campus.

In terms of intervention, 91 percent  of survey respondents think identifying and referring potentially violent students is the best course of action, along with mass text alerts. An active shooter plan, campus police presence and video cameras also were noted as helpful.