Should college students be allowed to carry weapons on campus?

WILMINGTON — A number of college campus shootings over the past year have many UNCW students concerned. Some of those students want people with gun permits to be able to carry their guns on campus. Interested students want to join more than 25,000 people who are part of the national organization Students for Concealed Carry on Campus.

Fatal shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University are examples of why UNCW student Tyler Millage and others want concealed weapons allowed on campus. Millage said, “In the hands of responsible citizens, there’s no danger from handguns.”

Millage is spearheading an effort for the organization Students for Concealed Carry on Campus to be recognized as an official campus group. The group’s mission is to allow people at least 21 years-old who have concealed carry permits to have their guns on them when on UNCW’s campus, which is currently illegal.

“Part of the beauty of concealed carry is that you don’t have to carry to be protected by it. Other people can be carrying and they can protect you in an emergency situation,” Millage said.

Those in favor said campus would be safer. Those opposed, like David Dangelico and Aaron Ward, said they’d feel anything but safe. Dangelico said, “I’d feel more concerned about the person next to me, you know, if he’s carrying a handgun in his bag and if I say something wrong to him and he’s not exactly having the best day, if something could go wrong.”

Ward said, “I don’t really think allowing more guns in the hands of students is going to necessarily protect us more. We already have an able-bodied police force on campus to deal with this threat.”

Millage said in the campus shootings that have happened, like at Virginia Tech, school police haven’t responded quickly enough. He said, “If just one person in Norris Hall had had a handgun, they could have stopped it before 30 people had been killed in that one building alone.”

According to Millage, about 30 students have expressed an interest and in the fall the group will present its case to a review committee made up of five faculty members and five students.

UNCW released the following statement:

As a university community, we respect the right of our students to express their positions on issues, including campus safety and security, which is an issue of vital importance to all of us. While allowing students to carry guns might appear to some individuals to be an option in deterring violence on campuses, it brings with it additional concerns for safety. One concern is the level of training and proficiency of the person carrying the weapon, including his or her ability to use it effectively and retain the weapon in a crisis situation. Many gun owners have been killed or injured with their own weapons while attempting an intervention. A second concern is the tactical complexity of introducing multiple weapons to a police emergency, which significantly elevates the probability that a well meaning citizen may be mistaken as an aggressor. Having multiple people carrying and using weapons during a situation such as an active shooter attack causes confusion about who is actually the perpetrator, which may result in additional injuries. We believe that there are other approaches and solutions to increasing campus safety and security that are more effective than allowing the proliferation of weapons on campus.

The best protection for any potential emergency is to be informed and aware. It is important to have a plan in place in advance to deal with crisis situations. A plan involving options on what a person can do to escape, where to hide (if escape is not an option), who to notify and where to rally with co-workers or classmates when the “all clear” is given are all points that need to be considered. UNCW Police offers “community response to violent situations” workshops to assist students, faculty and staff with how to plan and deal with a violent situation on campus, which cover areas of law enforcement response and familiarization with campus-wide emergency notification systems. Students are also encouraged to report any suspicious individuals or activity to UNCW Police and to be vigilant about security measures, such as not allowing unauthorized persons to enter locked residence halls.


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