Two of the most volatile elements on a college campus are alcohol and hormones. These ingredients contribute to sexual assault (23.1 percent of female and 5.4 percent of male undergraduates), property destruction (50 percent of college administrators from schools with high drinking levels say their campuses have a problem with alcohol-related property damage), and poor academic performance (25 percent of college students report missing class and doing poorly on exams or papers related to alcohol consumption). Most students survive all three of these, though sexual assault brings its own kind of death and alcohol-related incidents do kill 1400 students each year.
To this lethal mixture, the North Carolina General Assembly is considering a bill that will allow students to carry guns on campus, the infamous “campus carry bill.” I spent 16 years working as a college chaplain and in those years spent plenty of time on campus for late night weekend frivolity. That frivolity will quickly turn deadly, more deadly than previously mentioned, when guns enter the scene. Alcohol dulls reasoning ability while leaving instinct intact. A student who feels threatened will not have the brain-width to think about that threat, but can still respond instinctively. Out comes a gun – shots fired. Likely the student will be too inebriated to hit the target (even trained professionals only hit their targets 20 percent of the time when under stress), but that won’t protect others in the area who happen to be in the path of an errant bullet.
None of this is to imply that every student on every campus spends every weekend in a drunken stupor, but only to point out that the occasions when emotions run high and where guns could be brandished will likely be in compromised campus settings. Never mind, the uncompromised, but admittedly hair-trigger emotions of late adolescents and emerging adults.
For the extremely rare occasion when outside threats appear on campus, many schools have their own police force, and every school has campus security personnel. These folks are trained to understand the situations which call for deadly force and to use weapons that kill.
The North Carolina Council of Churches has been actively involved in promoting sensible gun laws for our citizens, laws that will protect all citizens and protect our Second Amendment rights. If you want the General Assembly to wade into the water, I suggest supporting House Bill 723, Gun Safety Act. Its provisions include:
- Repeal the Stand Your Ground laws.
- Strengthen safe storage laws.
- Require the owner of a gun to report its loss or theft to law enforcement.
- Require gun owners to have liability insurance covering guns.
- Require sheriffs to verify that an applicant for a gun permit has firearm liability insurance before issuing the permit.
- Limit reciprocity for out-of-state gun permits to those states whose criteria for issuing a permit are at least as stringent as NC’s.
- Prohibit large-capacity ammunition magazines (those holding more than 15 rounds).
- Divest the state of its investments in gun manufacturers.
- Require law enforcement agencies to have written policy regarding the investigation of officer-involved deaths.
Authorize courts to issue a gun violence restraining order, which would make it illegal for the person to have guns or ammunition. The order could be requested by a family member of the person or by a law enforcement office and would be based on a determination that the person poses a significant danger of injuring someone with the gun.
And naturally, I implore you to register your disapproval of House Bill 588, Omnibus Gun Changes, of which one of the most dangerous parts will allow carrying a concealed gun at a UNC system school or a community college, including areas such as university hospitals or on-campus day care centers where children are present.