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ERIC Number: EJ1023673
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0009-1383
Ready, Fire, Aim: The College Campus Gun Fight
Birnbaum, Robert
Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, v45 n5 p6-14 2013
The question of whether guns should be permitted on college and university campuses in the United States reflects the tension between two competing perspectives. America has both a robust gun culture and an equally robust (if less well known) gun-control culture. The gun culture is as American as apple pie: There may be as many as 300 million civilian guns in the US, or about one for every person (Winkler, 2011a). The gun-control culture also has a long history in the U.S. The issue of guns on college campuses is presently a subject of vigorous debate, stimulated by newspaper and on-line headlines. This article asks the question: "Does either the MoreGuns or the BanGuns position improve public safety?" Two major national studies have used similar data to examine the relationship between gun ownership and degree of criminal activity--and they reached diametrically opposed conclusions. One found that "allowing citizens without criminal records or histories of significant mental illness to carry concealed handguns deters violent crimes" (Lott & Mustard, 1997). The other concluded that "statistical evidence that these [concealed-carry] laws have reduced crime is limited, sporadic, and extraordinarily fragile," and it suggested that making it easier to get a firearms permit is associated with higher levels of crime (Ayres & Donohue III, 2003). Any successful proposal to either permit or restrict the presence of guns on campus must be consistent with both the U.S. Constitution and the constitutions and laws of the states. Since the ostensible purpose of campus firearms policies is to improve campus safety, describing the actual incidence of crime on campus might help clarify the issues over which the MoreGuns/BanGuns camps are contending. Such data are available because the Student Right to Know and Campus Security Act of 1990 authorizes the Department of Education to collect and analyze incidents of crime on every U.S. college campus. This law, known as the Clery Act, requires each institution to annually report and disclose, among other things, the number of alleged campus incidents of criminal activity reported to the campus or local police agencies. This is the source of the numbers reported in this article, even though Clery Act data have been criticized because institutions may differ in their interpretations of the self-reporting requirements and may fail to report some offenses in order to protect their reputations. In addition, students may be reluctant to report crimes, and campus counseling centers may withhold information based on confidentiality concerns. The data reported in this article are based on all reported on-campus incidents in U.S. degree-granting, not-for-profit campuses. Three analyses are presented. The first is the incidence of specific types of campus crime in 2010; the second, comparative rates of violent criminal behavior on campuses and in the general population; and the third, campus and general-population data related to the two violent crimes of murder and manslaughter. Additional resources are provided.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Student Right to Know and Campus Security Act
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A