Gun Rights in America: Let Millennials Defend Themselves

by Laura Giunta

Gun control advocates have long pushed the view that the American people, when armed, are a danger to themselves.  This is especially true when it comes to our nation’s young people, specifically college students and twenty-somethings, who are painted as being either too reckless or too skittish to carry a gun to defend themselves.

Concealed CarryInstead of allowing millennials the right to act in their own defense, gun control advocates would rather they become victims, wholly reliant on others to protect them. But, while gun control advocates continue to support the disarmament of young adults, young adults continue to be the target of gun violence. Without securing the gun rights of millennials, we cannot give millennials the freedom to independently protect their persons against gun violence and other violent attacks.

Young people are often the victims of gun violence. In 2007, the Virginia Tech Massacre left 32 dead. Of those 32 victims, 75% were under the age of 30. Last year, we witnessed the tragedies of Aurora, Colorado and Sandy Hook Elementary School.  The 26 victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting were mostly children, with the lives of 20 children snuffed out. The shooting at the Aurora movie theater targeted moviegoers at a midnight premiere of a popular film, whose audience typically tends to be young; it is therefore not surprising that of the 12 victims killed that night, 10 of them were under 30.

With so many of the recent mass shootings targeting younger generations, we must ask ourselves: How can we protect our nation’s young people against gun violence?

The Colorado House of Representatives answered this question by passing House Bill 1226, which would ban concealed weapons on college campuses across the state.  While the bill has not been approved by the state’s senate, if passed, Colorado universities that previously allowed concealed carry on campus would now ban concealed weapons.

But will making college campuses gun-free zones help protect our young people? Statistics say differently.  In Colorado, two campuses of Colorado State University have allowed concealed carry since 2003, while 14 Colorado community colleges, which include 38 separate campuses, have allowed licensed concealed carry on campus since Fall 2010.  Other states, such as Utah, have allowed those with concealed carry permits to carry concealed handguns on their nine public colleges and one public technical college, which include 30 separate campuses, since 2006. Similarly, Blue Ridge Community College in Virginia has allowed concealed carry since 1995.

Despite allowing concealed carry on campus, as of June 2011 none of these 26 colleges, which include 71 campuses, has reported any acts of gun violence or even gun accidents.  Moreover, the mass shootings at Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary, and the Aurora movie theater all took place in gun-free zones. In the case of Aurora, out of the seven movie theaters within 20 minutes of the killer’s apartment, the one the killer chose was the only one that banned permitted concealed handguns, despite neither being the largest theater or the closest theater to his home.

Democrat Representative Claire Levy, who sponsored House Bill 1226, claimed, “Students and guns are a bad mix” and “There are a lot of students who simply are not ready to be in the presence of firearms,” citing that college students often become involved with heavy drinking and drug use [see here and here]. Democrat Representative Joe Salazar had similar sentiments on the ability of college students to adequately use guns to defend themselves, particularly aiming his comments at young women. When the question of young women carrying concealed guns to defend themselves, particularly against rape, came up, Salazar stated: “It’s why we have call boxes, it’s why we have safe zones, it’s why we have the whistles. Because you just don’t know who you’re gonna be shooting at. And you don’t know if you feel like you’re gonna be raped, or if you feel like someone’s been following you around or if you feel like you’re in trouble when you may actually not be, that you pop out that gun and you pop … pop around at somebody.” In the midst of backlash, Salazar later apologized for these remarks.

Levy and Salazar’s remarks are less about protecting college students from gun violence and more about protecting college students from themselves.  Rather than empowering our nation’s young people, those defending the ban on concealed carry on college campuses have characterized them as too irresponsible or too emotional to carry a gun.  They imagine college students as the stereotypical frat boy, in a perpetual state of drunkenness, who need guns taken away from them by a coddling nanny state so they don’t hurt themselves, like a parent putting safety locks on a kitchen cabinet to protect a toddler.  Young women, on the other hand, are imagined as irrational and easily frightened, who cannot discern when they are in actual danger, and who will only end up shooting innocent citizens in some terrified hysteria rather than defend themselves against criminals who genuinely wish to do them harm.  Those who support the bill believe these young women are better off remaining victims to be rescued by others, relying on “call boxes” and “whistles” to call for help, and not attempt to make any effort to defend, protect, or save themselves.

While gun control advocates would like the American people to believe that guns in the hands of law-abiding, permit-carrying college students on university campuses would only incite an onslaught of gun crime, accidental shootings, and dangerous, reckless behavior, the aforementioned statistics show otherwise.  Stripping young adults of their right to defend themselves by making college campuses gun-free zones will not help protect young people from gun violence nor will it protect them from other violent crimes, whether it be assault, rape, or muggings.

Young men and women, who are licensed to carry concealed weapons and choose to carry, not only have the right to protect themselves, but the right to be self-reliant in their ability to do so.  They should not have to rely on the hope that someone will come and help them, as gun control advocates insist, but should have enough autonomy to be able to capably defend against a violent attacker.  Banning concealed carry on college campuses because of a stereotypical and unfounded notion that young adults are incapable of using guns responsibly will only force those young people who wish to and are permitted to carry concealed weapons to become dependent, powerless, and potentially victimized.

Thus, if we truly want to protect our young people against gun violence, instead of banning concealed carry on college campuses, we need to put more faith in the judgment and abilities of responsible young men and women and secure their right to bear arms.


Laura Giunta has a Master’s degree from St. John’s University. She is a children’s librarian residing in New York State.  

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