The debate over carrying concealed guns on college campuses is being looked at from a new angle, with advocates arguing that if students are allowed to carry a firearm, it could deter sexual assault.
The New York Times reported that although carrying concealed firearms on college campuses is illegal in 41 states, lawmakers in 10 states are pushing bills that would end the ban, and they are “hoping that the national spotlight on sexual assault will help them win passage of their measures.”
The 10 states include Florida, Indiana, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.
Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, who is sponsoring a bill for concealed carry on college campuses in Nevada, told the New York Times that she predicts her bill will pass, due to the fact that Nevada has both a Republican-controlled Legislature and a Republican Governor, and that if passed, it will make a major difference on college campuses.
“If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them,” Fiore said. “The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.”
As previously reported, Taylor Woolrich, a senior at Dartmouth University, advocated for concealed carry on her college campus after she was stalked by 67-year-old Richard Bennett, even with the presence of a restraining order.
“Dartmouth thinks banning weapons will keep students safe, but a gun ban isn’t going to stop him from attacking me,” said Woolrich. “If Dartmouth, a restraining order, and law enforcement can’t guarantee my safety, then I’m asking for the right to do so.”
John Foubert, an Oklahoma State University professor and the president of One in Four, a program that seeks to educate students about sexual assault on college campuses, told the New York Times that he thinks using sexual assaults to push for concealed carry “reflects a misunderstanding of sexual assaults in general.”
“If you have a rape situation, usually it starts with some sort of consensual behavior, and by the time it switches to nonconsensual, it would be nearly impossible to run for a gun,” Joubert said. “Maybe if it’s someone who raped you before and is coming back, it theoretically could help them feel more secure.”
On Monday, a bill to allow concealed carry on college campuses was passed by Florida’s Senate Criminal Justice Committee, with a 3-2 vote.
The bill’s sponsor, Committee Chairman Greg Evers told the Tallahassee Democrat that due to the number of registered sexual offenders living near Florida State University, he believes the bill will fix a safety issue on the campus.
“The problem is that in gun-free zones, that we have on college campuses right now, those gun-free zones are just an incubator for folks that won’t follow the law,” Evers said.
Crayle Vanest, a senior at Indiana University and the first woman on the national board of Students for Concealed Carry, told the New York Times that the group’s female membership has seen a dramatic increase.
“Universities are under a ton of investigation for how they handle sexual assaults,” said Vanest. “Our female membership has increased massively. People who weren’t listening before are listening now.”