Sexual Assault and Concealed Carry

A traditional favorite for constitution bashing has always been second amendment rights. Recently, this issue has flared up again, this time in relation to college campuses and sexual assault.

Currently, it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon anywhere on property owned by the University of Michigan Regents as per a special ordinance enacted by the University. State law requires that concealed carry may not be permitted in campus dormitories or classrooms; the University of Michigan ordinances take this ban even further. Advocates for removing special ordinances at the University of Michigan have recently argued that allowing students to carry concealed weapons will help prevent sexual assault. While I support repealing the University of Michigan ordinance, I do not think that instances of sexual assault should be the justification for the repeal.
Sexual assault on college campuses is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed. Firearms, however, are unlikely to provide a solution. To begin with, in order to be eligible to obtain a concealed pistol license, an individual must be 21 years old, which exempts most of the undergraduate population.  Secondly, many instances of sexual assault occur in familiar settings where the victim already knows the perpetrator; in these cases, access to and use of firearms is highly unlikely. Firearms are not widely applicable to preventing sexual assault on college campuses.

Regardless of the use of firearms in sexual assault prevention, concealed pistol licenses should not lose their validity on college campuses. Responsible adults, who have taken the necessary steps, including a licensing course, should have a right to exercise their second amendment rights without being subject to the overreaching ordinances of university campuses. In explanation, the University of Michigan policy, as it stands, effectively prevents those who do have concealed pistol licenses from carrying anywhere around the campus, as a fair amount of the property in Ann Arbor is owned by the regents. Thus the ban is excessively far reaching, as it extends not just to the classrooms and dormitories explicitly outlined in state law. As crime alerts sent out by the Department of Public Safety demonstrate, there are occurrences of armed robbery and other violent crimes on university owned property. The age old argument of banning guns to stop violence is still false. Individuals should have the right to defend themselves.

I appreciate the activists who are pushing for the reform of campus policies regarding concealed weapons. I wish, however, that these advocates would not formulate their debates around preventing sexual assault with firearms. These arguments take away from both addressing sexual assault in productive ways and fail to support concealed carry on its most basic principles.  

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About Erin Dunne

Erin Dunne is a senior studying History, French and International Studies. In her free time she is a drug policy reform advocate and a free speech enthusiast. You can reach her by email at eedunne@umich.edu