How to Stop Mass Shootings on North American College Campuses

June 24, 2019

Photo courtesy of

Those who are old enough and can pass background checks to own and carry a handgun have every right to concealed carry. It’s their second amendment right.

However, where they are allowed to carry that weapon is quite another story. The argument presented by pro-gun groups is that arming students and staff on North American campuses will make students safer and prevent deaths.

Is there any proof for this or it is a knee-jerk reaction to mass shootings? Witness the situation on campus in San Bernardino where the president of Liberty University encouraged students and staff to bring guns to school. His philosophy was that, if killers ever set foot on that campus, they would “teach them a lesson.”

Would lives have been saves if students and staff on the campus of Virginia Tech had been armed? Are licensed gun-carrying students and staff a deterrent to would-be mass murderers?


If indeed armed university personnel save lives then where should students and staff be allowed to concealed carry? Where should weapons not be allowed?

Proof that arming campus personnel does indeed save lives is not easy. There are few to no examples to cite. Can anyone find an incident where armed campus personnel thwarted shooters and thus saved lives? Even campus security personnel are hard pressed to cite incidents where presence of armed students or staff saved lives.

Students who have been on campus when a shooter fired on students or staff reported that they were thankful they were in another building and therefore did not have to make the choice about whether to get involved or not. One commented that concealed carry is one thing and actually drawing and facing an armed shooter is a whole other question. They also expressed fear that when police or SWAT arrived they might very well think the students were shooters and arrest them or gun them down.

A study shows that only between one and three percent of mass shooters stopped armed shooters. Studies that claim armed students or staff are a deterrent to mass shooter have been disputed as having little to no proof of the hypothesis. One example is the 1997  study by Yale professor J. R. Lott who claimed armed civilians prevented two million crimes between 1992 and when the study was released. This study was later found to be ambiguous and inconclusive. Studies often find it difficult to prove what action by a student or staff member actually prevented killings.

On the other hand there have been examples where having a handgun stopped potential home invaders or thieves. Thus, those who wish to be concealed carriers on campus have argued that they should have the right to protect themselves. The other argument for concealed carry on campus is that knowing students and/or staff are armed might well give potential mass shooter cause to go elsewhere or not to fire on a campus.

This is merely a hypothesis and has no data to support it.