Could allowing guns on campus help prevent the next school shooting?
That is the questions Florida State University (FSU) and Texas A&M University officials are debating after on campus student groups have requested the repeal of current campus wide bans on firearms. The Students for Concealed Carry FSU recently sent a letter to Representative W. Gregory Steube appealing to the legislator to help advance legislation which would actually allow the students to carry concealed firearms. Steube responded by introducing a bill in early December that would revise the current stipulations which deny students possessing a valid firearms license the ability to carry their firearms on college and university campuses throughout the state. The student body president at Texas A&M is also appealing university officials to allow students to also carry concealed weapons on campus.
According to a report by the Huffington Post, some 27 shootings occurred on or near college campuses over the last year. One of the most recent occurred in November when a gunman shot three students in the FSU library before police shot and killed him on the scene. According to students and legislative supporters, the gunman could have been stopped sooner had students been able to take action on their own. Advocates for university policy and legislative changes suggest that by permitting students to bear arms, university and college campuses might actually become safer.
However allowing firearms in any capacity on campus could be a slippery slope for educators when it comes to liability concerns. Regulating and implementing such a policy can be resource and time intensive yet will inevitably be necessary to ensure a safe environment for students. Educators and school boards considering any policy changes regarding firearms should be aware of the risks exposures their institution could face by allowing firearms on campus.
Over the last year there have already been a number of mass shootings that have taken place in a different schools and venues across the country. From churches to high schools, concert venues to video game tournaments, rural towns to cities, people are growing accustomed to the news of deadly shootings taking place.
With this in mind, the gun debate, especially guns in schools, has been refueled. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has led the conversations of bringing firearms on to campus for teachers and administrators to arm themselves against shootings. The Education Department is in talks about whether or not to allow states to use federal grant money to buy firearms for schools after discussions arose from inquiries received from officials in Oklahoma and Texas in regards to spending funds from Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants.
The grants, part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, have drawn significant criticism as this would be the first move of its kind in which a federal agency has authorized the purchase of weapons without a congressional mandate. When the gran program was created in 2015, firearms on campus weren’t considered in the available $1.1 billion. People are arguing that the program has few restrictions and DeVos may have to give states the flexibility to use the grant money as they would like to.
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