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As mass shootings become more prevalent in today’s events and covered by news outlets around the world. There are typically different approaches to this problem. Increase firearm restrictions or ban them outright, on the other hand allow law abiding citizens to practice their Second Amendment rights. It’s known that people can be unpredictable and terrible things can happen at any time and anywhere.
What makes college campuses any different, well in a court case DiGiacinto v. The Rector and visitors of George Mason University the university adopted a ban on conceal carry. The court ruled that institutions of higher learning are considered a sensitive place. So, a “reasonable expectation that the university will maintain a campus free of foreseeable harm”. So, simply marking a college campus as a sensitive environment it takes away the use of the Second Amendment from the students on said campuses. Should colleges hold such power to prevent students from protecting their property and their lives from a life-threatening situation. Safety of students is very important and it’s something college universities should be concerned with.
The amount of crimes committed and the safety of students play hand in hand. An interesting study between Utah Valley University and the University of Tennessee shows the impact of safety and crime when concerning concealed carry. This study took place in 2013 when both schools had approximately thirty thousand students, with Utah allowing conceal carry and Tennessee prohibits it. Utah reported four criminal acts whereas Tennessee reported ninety-seven crimes, of which drug related crimes, hate crimes, disciplinary actions, or arrest were not included. The issue that arises when determining correlation of conceal carry on campus and safety is there isn’t a whole lot of research out there yet.
When looking at research for concealed carry on campus and the safety of students, there is empirical data backing crimes committed on college campuses. Although when it comes to those who conceal carry it’s hard to pinpoint an exact number of students. Being limited not only by the amount of states and colleges that allow conceal carry, there is also a limiting factor of having 100% response rates of surveys as those who do carry probably don’t want others to know. Due to the sensitivity of the subject anonymity will be practiced. It will be addressed that this research is not for means of political gain, but to better understand the effects that legal campus carry has on crime and safety on campus. Quantitative data will mostly be used although qualitative research will be welcomed.
School emails with a link to anonymous survey will be used as well as in class surveys, they will offer the possibility of reaching the most students. As well as face-to-face interviews will be offered to those that can share personal experiences on how campus carry has affected their life. It’s crucial that research be done on conceal carry and its effects on crime and safety of students. It’s important that this research been done as the research that has been done lacks generalizability and quantitative data. The Second Amendment and the right of self-protection can be argued as a basic human right. Without this research law abiding students may be suppressed of their Second Amendment while on campus.
Most of current literature addressing conceal carry on campus if not all point in the direction that guns have been a big factor of violence. Just about every empirical journal mentioned at least once about a famous mass school shooting. Typically doing so within the first few paragraphs, leaving an underlying belief and bias that guns only associate with terrible incidents and not they could protect people from said events. A pattern among current literature shows a lack of diversity within survey groups, typically coming from large universities, while only providing a few hundred in the study. Guns are already a topic of controversy and displayed in the media in a distasteful manner, when adding the idea of college students being able to conceal carry it becomes even more of a sensitive matter.
The Second Amendment reads, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” (U.S Constitution. Amendment II). The focus of this would be, does college campuses have the right to infringe on its student population rights. In this matter Utah quickly decided regarding the right to conceal carry on campus, and took away any power of this matter from the universities. “The state legislature passed a law removing any state entity’s ability to restrict firearm possession”.
Thus, being the first state to make conceal carry on campus a state concern and not a universities concern regarding legality. Even though that in the court case (D.C v. Heller, 2008), “the Court held that individuals have an inherent right to self-defense which is central to the Second Amendment”. While the Court held that a ban on firearms within the home is unconstitutional, it did not choose to address the scope of the Second Amendment in what it deemed ‘sensitive places’ or outside the home. Generally, the classification for a sensitive place is considered government buildings and schools. This arises an issue that seems to have gone uncontested in that college universities are neither government buildings nor ‘schools’.
The issue lies in that schools are well defined according the state legislation of California, and it does not match what a college university is. According to the state legislation “’a school… encompasses the grounds of a public or private school engaged in kindergarten through twelfth grade education”. A college is a place of higher education, that being above 12th grade not classifying it as a school, therefore would not qualify for a sensitive place. As for current research, there seemed to be only one article that touched upon this and quickly seemed to dismiss it. Although it seems that this area of research could benefit from further analysis.
Most of current research literature groups college students into one big group of 18-23-year old’s. Not analyzing down to everyone, granted this would take an enormous amount of research and funding. When it comes to legalization of concealed carry on campus it doesn’t mean that all students will go out and buy a firearm. There’s obvious restrictions set in place by state and federal laws, being you must be twenty-one or older to purchase a handgun, and pass a background test. So, when researchers suggest “that with the age range of college students, who are likely to experiment with alcohol and drugs, and it’s a recipe for trouble — even an accidental discharge on a densely populated campus is likely to hit someone”.
As well as “frequent workplace disputes, high-stress classes and competition for resources – all potential causes of escalating violence”. These types of scenarios are always going to be cause to alarm. Although the potential harms are increased due to the larger close net population. That’s not to dismiss that matter that there is always a chance of a freak accident, or crazed person with a firearm, and that it should not be limited to only college students. With consistent research, its known that gun owners have stayed that same, “older, White men, living in the South, in rural areas, or persons holding conservative political views”. As for colleges that fall demographically within the Midwest students “are more likely to have a positive, first-hand experience with guns”. As well as a study in 2002 it was “found that students possessing a working firearm at college were more likely to be White, male, live off campus, and attend school in a rural location” (Miller, Hemenway, & Wechsler 2002). This helps give a brief understanding of the potential demographic that would be in favor of and if able to conceal carry on campus. Although a large amount of this info is not known and would benefit greatly from exploratory research.
“Over the past several decades, university professors have reported a surge of incivility and behavioral problems with students”. Incivility was described as inattentive e.g. sleeping, arriving late, leaving early or hostile e.g. complaining, arguing. During the 1980s college campus started to receive greater amount of scrutiny especially from the media. It wasn’t until 1990 the colleges were required to release their crime statistics, which then created Student Right to Know and Campus Security Act. Although not backed by empirical data it’s been noted that any entity like a university will try to have the least amount of reported crime.
Such actions can be achieved by not self-reporting a robbery that happened across the street. Although both Sloan (1992) and Bromley (1995), both found that violent crimes only account for 2%. And that according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2005) reported that college students ages 18-24 experienced less violent crimes of those that were non-students. When it comes to non-violent crimes though colleges experience large amounts of theft and larceny. When it comes to conceal carry on campus one of the simplest beliefs is that “armed campuses will be a less attractive target to those wanting to commit acts of violence”.
Even though stated before that violent crime on campus is extremely low compared to theft and larceny. It’s often believed that these “rates are elevated because students frequently fail to adequately protect their property”. According to this data, conceal carry on campus would most likely have an impact on the amount of crime committed. Although it would be hard to accurately gauge its involvement. When it comes to an absence of guns on campus is when the most damage can be done. Without conceal carry there is no means of deterrence, or self-defense of a school shooter. Without such protection students rely on campus and local police to deescalate the situation. As well as colleges typically have an active shooter procedure typically involving three steps.
To avoid the attacker by fleeing, denying them access by locking doors, and defend if it comes to that situation to try and disarm the attacker. Minutes matter in these situations and giving the students the right to defend themselves with a conceal carried firearm could mean life and death for hundreds of students.
The purpose of this study it to analyze and better understand the effects that concealed carry on campus has on college students. There has not been a lot of current research done on the effect it has on crime and safety. Instead most research focuses on students’ rights and the colleges ability to ban conceal carry on campus. This study seeks to uncover a clearer relation between conceal carry and its effects on crime on campus. The researcher intends to analyze quantitative data collected from surveys sent through college email addresses and in class surveys. Due to the widespread of this study the singular researcher will not be able to aid with all the in-person surveys.
For this the Chair of the Criminal Justice program will administer it at their individual college. As for qualitative data from face-to-face interviews with the use of a third party, regarding personal experiences of the use of a concealed carry firearm on campus. The intended data of this research will be anonymous. The findings of this research will help fill in the blanks of previous research as concealed carry on campus is relatively new and understudied. As well as providing a baseline for future findings. The goal of this research study is providing an understanding on how concealed carry on campus effects the daily life of students in the means of safety and crime. It is important because many colleges and states are not in favor of this policy as they believe it to be the contributor of crime or unnecessary. Having a more descriptive study on the matter could better inform law makers on the issues.
This study aims to analyze and provide reasonable answers to the following research questions. The researcher first intends to answer the question: Does college campuses with legal concealed carry compared to those with anti-gun laws have different amount of crimes committed? This question is very important as it is groundwork of this paper and will be studied throughout. The second question the researcher intends to answer is: Does the possibility that others are armed, deter the likelihood of someone committing a crime? This question is important as it evaluates peoples thought process when it comes to the possibility of immediate reaction by the victim. The third question that the researcher intends to answer is: Does college campuses have the right to infringe on the Second Amendment? Now this question is really about the morality and ethicality of colleges deciding what students can and can’t do. The answer to this question won’t be clear cut but will be discussed and is more for each person to ponder on.
As mentioned earlier, previous studies that have been completed lacked a generalizability figure and demographic. Because each state has different laws regarding conceal carry on campus that gives the possibility of research into two different groups. The researcher will be able to send anonymous surveys to both colleges that allow conceal carry, and to those that don’t. The purpose of this would be to study the perception that students have about conceal carry on campus and how they believe it would affect their campus and learning experience. As for the other group, those who already have legal campus carry. The researcher will be able to distinguish quantitative between the two groups. As well as seeing if conceal carry has an actual effect on crime or just a perception of safety. Surveys are used in this study with the purpose of reaching a larger group of participants.
In order make participants feel comfortable about answering, each participant will be told that their information will remain anonymous and that their answers are used to collect quantitative data. By doing so the researcher hopes that more participants are willing to answer the survey without fear of any judgement or retaliation. As their answers will not affect their standings with the university or any professor. To obtain a certain degree of qualitative data, face-to-face interviews will be used with the help of third party. This is to ensure that the researcher remains neutral from the participants and truly anonymous. Face-to-face interviewing is used to subsidize data and allow for a more diverse means of delivery. It will also provide a safe environment for students to discuss their first-hand experiences with campus carry.
The desired sample size would consist around five-million students to be surveyed, which is close to 25% of the population in college. Surveys will be distributed to each college, spread proportionally among students according to their total enrollment count. This way there is data coming from all over the united states all with the equal opportunity. These surveys will be distributed in a way that it doesn’t favor any sex, race, ethnicity, or demographic. The researcher believes that this is the best way as it will give a more realistic opinion as there isn’t any underlying basis. The researcher expects a large return of surveys, of 80%. To achieve this goal if after two weeks the researcher hasn’t seen an 80% return, the researcher will resend out the survey to the same population that has yet to complete it. That way there could be no chance that data may be skewed.
The independent variable of this research study would be Conceal carry on campus, as it is the variable that it is regulated and controlled. The researcher would like to see that the crime rate on campus would be the dependent variable. Although like mentioned before that the correlation between guns and crime isn’t thorough studied. Therefore, due to lack of current literature and empirical data the dependent variable will remain unknown until proven otherwise.
When it comes to the participant, the researcher wants to make sure that he/she is safe and has plenty of safeguards. During face-to-face interactions, and the qualitative information on firsthand accounts of conceal carry, and how its effected their life. Uneasiness and anger could occur. To combat these, interviewers will be matched with same sex students. As well as special services will be available to the students who felt distress due to the sensitivity of this subject.
When conducting research, it is important to do so as accurately and as honest as possible, to do so there must be some limitations recognized. The largest limitation derives from surveys, which is also the largest source of information. The limitation being that participants may not answer the questions truthfully. Some may not answer correctly because they may be ashamed of what they may put, some deliberately lie to skew data, and some people don’t care and just answer whatever they feel. It’s important the researcher is aware of these possible limitations so that they may be better equipped to avoid these discrepancies. When it comes to conceal carry on campus that it is a subject that is closely related to political agendas.
It is important that the researcher makes it known to the participants, that their answers are to help understand conceal carry on campus and its effects of crime and safety. As there is no side agenda or secondary motive for them to answer in a certain way. When it comes time to administer the surveys it’s important that the researcher makes the participants feel comfortable. You don’t want an imbalance of power between the researcher and students. This may cause the students to feel as if the researcher is better than them and may not answer questions truthfully out of spite. The researcher can help avoid these limitations by dressing casually and using comprehendible sentences such at a 5th grade reading level. Making the participant feel as if they aren’t being challenged or looked down upon can help reinforce the idea that it is much more casual.
Strengths of the study The data that will be collected in this study will help fill in the gaps left behind from other current literature. Do to the lacking amount of research done on this topic, as well most of it seems to mention only the legality of campus carry. As well as most seem to point in the direction that campus carry is dangerous and unnecessary. It is for this reason why this research will revise what’s currently on the books, and even help lay down a new platform for future research. Campus carry is relatively a new concept and because of this future research is inevitable. Furthering the necessity of a strong study.
Directions for Future Research Because there isn’t a definitive finding on the effects guns have on crime, with a plethora of research pointing in both directions. As well as a general lacking in the amounts of different literature. It is important for future research that it focus directly on the effects that campus carry has on its students and crime. Does perception alone of students having a gun deter crime, and what is considered a safe environment. If possible find crime data on colleges before or without conceal carry, measure the amount of crime and the perception of safety the students have. As crime can be static or it can be erratic, this causes issues when measuring between time periods. If possible for future researches to look at different policies, and to better understand the power colleges have on students Second Amendment rights.
The purpose of this study was to see if concealed carry on campus had an impact on safety of students and the amount of crimes committed. Because there is no definitive answer providing that the use of firearms has a negative or positive effect on crime, does not mean that this research isn’t important. There has not been a significant amount of research on the topic regarding campus carry and its effects on crime. This research can help begin a baseline of further research as most of the current literature is backed by old statutes and research done before campus carry became legal. This research strives to provide answers regarding campus carry and its effects it has on the students and campus.
The researcher first intends to answer the question: Does college campuses with legal concealed carry compared to those with anti-gun laws have different amount of crimes committed? This question is very important as it is groundwork of this paper and will be studied throughout. The second question the researcher intends to answer is: Does the possibility that others are armed, deter the likelihood of someone committing a crime? Lastly, does college campuses have the right to infringe on the Second Amendment? This question regards the morality and ethicality of students owning and carrying a firearm. Although not clear cut it’s important that this is addressed, because some schools believe that students have enough safety.
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