Jumping the gun: Concealed carry won’t stop sexual assault

With campus sexual assault prevalent in the news, gun rights groups and lawmakers are advocating for colleges to allow students to carry firearms as deterrents. Although such proposals have their merits, ultimately campus-carry policies would create more problems than they would solve.

For one, a campus-carry policy would likely contribute to the culture of victim-blaming that already surrounds sexual assault. Carrying a firearm would become just one more thing to add to the list of things that women feel they need to do to keep from being blamed for their own assault. Sticking with friends, avoiding drinks if you don’t know what’s in them, looking out for each other — I hope that these are things that young women at the College of William and Mary are keeping in mind. Carrying a gun, however, should not be.

Encouraging caution is important, but expecting women to arm themselves to evade sexual assault is unfair and unrealistic. If we get to the point where people tell rape victims, “You should have been carrying a firearm — then you could have defended yourself,” that’s crossing the line. And I’m afraid that’s where campus-carry laws will take us. Regardless of which precautions they take, victims of sexual assault are never to blame.

What’s more, there are many people who aren’t comfortable carrying a gun, or don’t own one, or don’t know how to shoot one. Should that make them targets? Absolutely not. We shouldn’t have to carry a gun to feel safe on our own campus.

Even more worrisome is the increased likelihood of violence if students were allowed to carry firearms on campus. You can’t solve violence using retaliatory violence. It’s counterintuitive to think that bringing more weapons onto campus would have the effect of reducing violent behavior. According to a report by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the presence of a gun in a domestic violence incident increases a woman’s risk of being killed by 500 percent. Although this is only evidence of a correlation, it speaks to a truth we need to recognize: More guns doesn’t mean less violence.

Allowing firearms on campus will only lead to more problems. There could be drunken accidents. Angry confrontations that might have otherwise been resolved without harm could turn deadly. Guns could be used against the very women these policies are supposedly trying to protect. This kind of violence is not what we want on this campus that we call home.

Here is what has the potential to fix issues of sexual assault: education, understanding and a shift toward a culture of consent. It’s a long-term goal, but it’s worth it to work for a campus community whose members respect and take care of one another.

Email Jennie Pajerowski at jepajerowski@email.wm.edu.


  1. It’s no surprise that DCs most powerful lobby – the gun industry/NRA – would want to coopt another increasingly powerful lobby: the “survivor” advocacy community.

    That advocacy movement has effectively coerced colleges throughout the country to abandon presumption of innocence, due process, and the “reasonable person” standard in order to railroad men accused of any sexual indiscretion, typically the result of women’s next-day remorse.

  2. For an in-depth expose of the evolution of universities from institutions of higher learning into witch-hunt tribunals for the “rape culture” advocates, see: New Puritanism – New Paternalism: The “Rape Culture” Narrative Demeans Women, Demonizes Men, and Turns Universities into Witch Hunt Tribunals http://riversong.wordpress.com/new-puritanism-new-paternalism/

    The deprivation of basic constitutional rights for men and their attempts to fight back are addressed in The Pendulum Reverses – Again: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses & Men Strike Back against Title IX Tribunals http://riversong.wordpress.com/new-puritanism-new-paternalism/the-pendulum-reverses-again/

    • @Gene German: Your comment shows how little you know about armed citizens and about the research that shows that the mere presence of a gun in domestic violence situations increases the chance of the woman being shot by several hundred percent.

  3. Nothing will stop sexual assault. However, allowing students to lawfully arm themselves will definitely put a huge dent in it. If those predisposed to the practice, knowing that their victims are potentially armed will decrease the likelihood that the act is even initiated. The fact that the population most susceptible to sexual assault – women – are prevented from having the means of self defense is what contributes to the problem. Guns put these women on equal footing and stop attackers in their tracks.

    However, I would question the motive of a person who actively seeks to disarmed female victims for the convenience of the rapists.

    No wonder most convicted rapists and mass shooters are registered Democrats.

    • @Alielbaryeshua: Nice regurgitation of NRA talking points, but everything you claim is contradicted by decades of reliable research which shows that the mere presence of guns makes women many times less safe.

      And, since the overwhelming majority of campus “sexual assault” is between acquaintances who have been drinking and don’t even remember who consented to what, the presence of lethal weapons will only turn a confused situation into a bloodbath.

    • @bog: The group cited is Mayors Against ILLEGAL Guns. Almost every American is against illegal guns.

      And the data that their report cites about women and guns comes from J.C. Campbell, D.W. Webster, J. Koziol-McLain, et al., “Risk factors for femicide within physically abusive intimate relationships: results from a multi-site case control study,” 93 Amer. J. of Public Health 1089-1097 (2003).

      Apparently, you don’t like science that undermines your personal ignorance-based bias.

      A September 2013 Violence Policy Center study found that women were more than three times more likely to be murdered when there was a gun in their household, even when domestic abuse wasn’t a factor, and a majority are killed by intimate partners. In fact, “More than twice as many women are killed with a gun used by their husbands or intimate acquaintances than are murdered by strangers using guns, knives, or any other means,” according to a study published in the Journal of Trauma by the RAND Institute of Health.

      But feel free to ignore all facts, logic and reliable research which

      These findings remain true across states and when controlling for other factors. A study from the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found that the more guns there are in a state, the more likely women are to die violent deaths, from unintentional shootings, suicides, and homicides. The Atlantic reported that this is true “even after controlling for factors such as urbanization, alcohol use, education, poverty, and divorce rates.”

      • Regardless of their name MAIG is an anti-gun group funded and backed by Bloomberg and besides member after member mayor getting indicted, other actually pro-law Mayors have jumped ship when the goals and tactics of the organization became obvious.

        That claim was based on a flawed study done in the 90’s which has since been debunked as flawed with falsified results.

        But as to the actual article. Sorry but history has already proven this article wrong. Over a decade ago Utah legalized campus carry. At the time and for several years afterwards various educational and student groups and the school administrations tried to fight and block the lawful carry of firearms on campus. But the feared results portrayed in the article and by the naysayers in Utah were proven wrong.

        Criminal assaults of all types dropped on Utah public campuses of higher education after carry was legalized. The law applies to public schools not private schools, so while our public campuses are now extremely safe with very low crime rates, the private universities in the state continue to have problems. Even Mormon owned BYU has recently had a serial groper assaulting (but luckily not raping) multiple coeds. Why because he could do so with no fear. Funny that he didn’t try it at a nearby public University, where his intended victims might have been armed.

        Simply put this article is FUD (Fear Uncertainty and doubt) based propaganda against the common sense of allowing those who can carry lawfully off campus to continue carrying on campus. There is nothing magical about the border of a campus that makes a law abiding citizen who carries in full compliance with the law suddenly a threat. MAIG, Moms Demand, and Everytown are all the same group with the same extremely flawed “studies” that fail to stand up to any real review.

        • @DickWad: That study was replicated in every other study on guns and domestic violence, not a single study has even suggested a link between campus concealed carry and a lowering of crime rates (violent crime has dropped in the US by 50% since the 1970s), that study was NOT “debunked” and 95% of all studies on guns and violence show a strong correlation between the two.

          There are NO “anti-gun” groups, only common-sense anti-violence and anti-gun-death groups, and your NRA talking points are as obvious as they are wrong.

          Now go back to the shooting range and get your rocks off.

    • Yet another Neanderthal who thinks we’d be better off with an armed citizenry and no government.

      Concealed carry permit fees are payed to states – and the FBI does not charge a fee to states or FFL dealers for conducting NCIS background checks.

      Does carrying a gun make people stupid, or do only stupid people carry guns?


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