Debate on concealed weapons at college campuses heats up at Georgia Tech

For the past two years, dozens of states have debated allowing college students to carry concealed weapons on campus. The issue is heating up in the Peach State where Georgia Tech students say an uptick of campus violence, has made them uneasy. Some want the right to carry concealed weapons on campus.

“Concealed weapons holders are significantly less likely to be arrested or convicted of crimes than the remainder of the population," Robert Eagar of Students for Concealed Carry said. "However, the second they step on to the campus the argument is made they become irresponsible -- and can no longer carry their weapons safely." 

Three Tech students were robbed near campus in Atlanta in August. More recently, a student asleep in his dorm room behind three layers of security woke up to a gun pointed at his head. He was unharmed, but robbed.  Students who fear crime on campus, rallied this week for the chance to protect themselves.

“We're not advocating for vigilante justice -- we're advocating that firearm is a last resort for defense,” Eager said. “Criminals know the population here at Georgia Tech is unarmed so we make an ideal target. Carrying high end laptops, cell phones, text book, whatever money you have. They know we have zero chance of defending ourselves against a criminal.”

Eager is part of a larger trend -- Students for Concealed Carry-- a national group formed after the Virginia Tech shooting tragedy. The group’s goal is to legalize concealed carry for current permit holders on college campuses.

On the other hand, some students see a solution in tightening restrictions to keep guns off campuses. Many argue students have enough stress and life issues -- guns shouldn’t be added to the mix.

Georgia Tech spokesperson Matt Nagel said in a statement: Tech adheres to the state law, and the policies of the university system of Georgia. So in essence, the campus has no direct control over the gun policy.  Georgia Tech and other colleges say campus security already works to keep students safe.

“We are realizing some success in our focused safety initiatives," he said. "For example, compared to the first seven months of 2008, property crimes during the same period of the current year are down 48% and violent crimes are down 62%."

The debate continues outside of Georgia as well. Twenty-one states ban carrying a concealed weapon on school grounds, 24 states leave it up to the university.  Earlier this year, Colorado’s Supreme Court, ruled in favor of Students for Concealed Carry. They argued the University of Colorado’s  prohibition on guns violated the state’s concealed carry law, students are now allowed to exercise their right to bear arms. A year earlier a state Court of Appeals overruled an Oregon University System prohibition on the carry of firearms.