Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study says guns on college campus is a bad idea

Posted at 5:50 PM, Oct 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-24 18:34:19-04

A new study released by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health states the risks outweigh the benefits when it comes to students and others carrying guns on campus.

"There's really no reliable evidence that bringing guns onto campus would make the campus safer and there's a lot of good reasons bringing guns into a college environment that could actually make that college less safe," Johns Hopkins professor Jon Vernick said.

Vernick specializes in gun violence research and helped prepare the publication. While he believes students are at a higher risk to hurt themselves and others during college, students themselves say guns can protect them and others.

"The only guns that are going to be able to stop that criminal from behaving illegally are guns that are going to be obtained legally," Johns Hopkins graduate student Thomas Pangia said.

Eight states across the nation feel the same way, adopting legislation that allows legal gun carriers to bring their firearm on campus. Those states include Wisconsin, Oregon, Kansas, Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi and Utah. Texas was the most recent to change legislation, which went into effect August 2016.

The other side of the argument has to do with students' ability to use the weapon responsibly.

"Guns can be dangerous and if you don't know how to use them, I mean if you're trained it's different, but your average college student is not," Johns Hopkins student Jon Hochstein said.

Vernick pointed to students who are away from home for the first time, experimenting with alcohol that can lead to binge drinking, high suicide rates among college students and how to safely store a firearm.

"It's just a recipe for disaster," Vernick said suicide rates climb to 90 percent when a firearm is involved.

Pangia brought the argument back to safety, "It would be a deterrent. If there was a criminal who's going to create a gun activity on a campus or a safe facility to know that there were people with guns who were able to stop them from completing that activity that would be a deterrent."

According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention, since 1993 homicides by firearm have gone down by 50 percent.

The study states neither gun free zones or right to carry laws appear to affect where mass shootings happen and that a small percentage of shootings were stopped by a citizen carrying a gun.

Hochstein said officers stop these shootings.

"At my church back home there's a couple people who are, police officers who are trained... basically there's always someone at mass who does have a gun, in case something does happen," Hochstein said.

The idea of allowing students to carry guns, is something Vernick says could make it harder for cops to catch a criminal.

"Officers tell us that if they have to assume that any student they encounter in some kind of altercation is armed, it'll be much more difficult for them to potentially deescalate that altercation and maintain their own safety," Vernick said.

In Maryland gun laws are strict, but colleges determine whether they allow guns on campus.

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