In a recent study published by Johns Hopkins University, entitled “Firearms on College Campuses: Research Evidence and Policy Implications,” ten authors push back against the campus carry movement, whereby state legislatures have given college students the right to carry firearms on college campuses in light of mass shootings. Although the researchers gave a detailed background on the progression of the campus carry movement, complete with brief summaries of court cases on campus carry, the authors’ anti-gun narratives are apparent throughout the study.
The authors make twenty-four references to gun rights advocate and author John Lott and focus on an attempt to debunk many of his pro-campus carry claims. In doing so, the authors cited anti-gun rights advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, which is backed by gun control activist and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg: “Everytown for Gun Safety analyzed data on mass shootings…for the period 2009-2015 and found that the majority (57%) of the incidents involved a shooter’s current or former intimate partner or family member. Seventy-one percent of the incidents occurred in a private dwelling and only 13% occurred in a public location that could qualify as a gun free or gun restricting zone.”
Also, when an NBC News article attempted to summarize the study, it alleged that the gun lobby had restricted neutral gun violence research stating, “although it’s worth noting that the gun-rights advocates have helped block federal research into gun violence for years.”
The Johns Hopkins study pointed to college students’ mental health as a reason not to have campus carry laws. Specifically, the study said:
“Studies of the relationship between the presence of guns in the home and risk for suicide among younger populations have found that the risk of suicide is two- to five-fold higher for all household members in homes with firearms.”
The study and narratives continued:
“Importantly, a firearm was the leading method for suicide among males, accounting for nearly a third (31%) of all suicides among male college students…A large body of literature clearly shows that firearm access is associated with increased rates of suicide, suggesting that increased access to firearms on college campuses could significantly increase suicide in this vulnerable group.”
One of the major points of the study was that armed security guards and unarmed civilians ended mass shootings, not armed civilians. The study claimed that of 39 incidents cited as armed-civilians-stopping-mass-shootings, 22 of the 39 “did not involve mass-shooting scenarios.” Those twenty-two incidents involved knife attacks, brandishing a gun without discharging it, armed robberies and less than four targeted victims. Also, the study claimed that for the rest of the incidents, seventeen in total, “the armed intervenor in six of these incidents was a law enforcement officer or armed security guard (not a private citizen).” The authors continued, “In two cases, armed civilians drew their weapons and helped detain the perpetrators, but only after the shootings had concluded” and neither civilian fired a shot. Only four, the study claimed, were mass shootings in progress and were stopped by an armed civilian.
They then cited FBI data, which found one incident where an armed civilian (a U.S. Marine) ended a potential mass shooting at a bar. The authors pointed out, “21 of the 160 active shooting incidents were interrupted when unarmed civilians confronted and restrained the gunmen.” What was their conclusion? “The FBI’s data suggest that unarmed civilians are more than twenty times likely to successfully end an active shooting than are armed civilians.”
However, that assertion ignored the reality that civilians have stopped mass shootings, even at a lower rate, which still is important in the preservation of human life. The study, by this logic, appears to assert that because civilians do not stop mass shootings at a higher rate, it is not worth investing in right-to-carry or campus carry laws when lives are at stake.
Also, the study claimed that:
“Contrary to what Lott argues, 84% of all gun massacres occurred in whole or in part where there is no evidence that civilian guns were prohibited, and nearly 90% occurred in whole or in part in locations where civilian guns were allowed or there was armed security or law enforcement.”
The authors use the Dallas police shooting, in which five police officers were murdered by a gunman who recited anti-police Black Lives Matter narratives, to shore up their point about armed civilians not stopping a mass shooting in the presence of armed law enforcement officers. They cited a statistic that there have been 111 “high-fatality mass shootings (six or more victims murdered) that occurred in the U.S. since 1966.” Building on that, the authors wrote:
“These 111 incidents did not include the mass shooting of police officers in Dallas on July 7 that obviously occurred in a gun-allowing zone where there were numerous Dallas police officers, campus police, and civilians openly carrying firearms. Among the wounded were two El Centro College police officers. These data do not suggest that gun-allowing zones deter gun massacres.”
Students for Concealed Carry beg to differ. Well, actually, they don’t beg.