The majority of students at 15 Midwestern colleges and universities do not want concealed handguns on their campuses, according to a recent study, but Ohio State was left out of the conversation. Some students said that makes the study less legitimate.
A questionnaire from Ball State University surveyed more than 1,600 undergraduate college students and found 78 percent of them were not supportive of concealed handguns on campuses and would not obtain a permit to carry handguns on campus if it were to become legal.
The 15 schools surveyed were University of Toledo, Ball State University, Kent State University, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Western Illinois University, Western Michigan University, Illinois State University, Eastern Illinois University, Ferris State University, University of Southern Indiana, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Of those schools, only the University of Wisconsin system permits students to carry concealed weapons on campus, and people are not allowed to bring the weapons into campus buildings or stadiums, according to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.
Concealed weapons are considered those which are kept hidden on one’s person or under one’s control. To obtain an Ohio Concealed Handgun License several requirements must be met, including completing a 12-hour Concealed Carry Weapons course and passing criminal and mental competency checks.
Concealed carry is prohibited at OSU, a regulation University Police Chief Paul Denton said is a combination of different state and campus policies.
Ohio Law ORC 2923.126 prohibits concealed carry on “any premises owned or leased by any public or private college, university or other institution of higher education, unless the handgun is in a locked motor vehicle or the licensee is in the immediate process of placing the handgun in a locked motor vehicle.”
The Workplace and Family Relationship Violence Policy 7.05, which applies to faculty, staff and student employees, states possession of deadly weapons, including firearms, are prohibited on university property, and the Code of Student Conduct, Section 3335-23-04 E., states storage or possession of dangerous weapons, including firearms, is prohibited.
There are groups advocating for concealed carry on OSU’s campus though – Buckeyes for Concealed Carry on Campus, the OSU chapter of Students for Concealed Carry Ohio, is “a group of OSU students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, as well as fans and other non-affiliates focused on restoring the right to lawfully carry a concealed handgun on Ohio’s college campuses,” according to the organization’s website.
Mike Newbern, State Director of Students for Concealed Carry Ohio and an OSU fourth-year in industrial and systems engineering, questioned the validity of the study.
“It’s key to note that this study was funded by the Joyce Foundation… a group advocating for ‘common sense gun violence reduction and prevention policies that keep our communities safe,’ which translates to ‘repeal laws that empower law-abiding citizens to take ownership of their safety under the false premise that criminals obey laws,’” Newbern said in a email.
Jagdish Khubchandani, co-author of the study, said in an email the study was not biased.
“Our main aim was to find funding for the studies we conduct,” Khubchandani said. “The way we design our studies is an intricate process — i.e. focus groups, test-retest analysis, expert review of surveys — all this is done to ensure neutrality of questionnaire language. We have no personal interest and our pursuit is truly academic in nature.”
Newbern said he found it significant OSU was left out of the sample.
“OSU is the home of the most active chapter (of Students for Concealed Carry) in the state and probably the country,” Newbern said “Maybe they left out OSU because they feared sampling here would skew their results in a way that didn’t support their agenda.”
Khubchandani said an invitation to participate in the study was sent to OSU faculty members, but no one agreed to participate.
Newbern also said he thought the surveyed students’ general knowledge about concealed carry or firearms in general was weak.
“(Fifty) percent weren’t even sure if their university had a policy regarding firearms on campus,” Newbern said.
Some OSU students, though, said they agreed with what the results the study showed and do not want concealed handguns on campus.
“I do not think concealed handguns should be allowed on campus. Knowing that people could have a gun on them might make people feel more on edge,” said Emily McCarthy, a second-year in strategic communications.
Jonathan Ellis, a first-year in engineering, agreed.
“I just don’t feel like it would be a good idea to have concealed carry here. There are too many opportunities for things to go wrong with this many people on campus,” Ellis said.
For now, concealed carry will remain prohibited at OSU, but if a policy were to ever be changed, it would be to serve the interest of the community and would require broad input, Denton said.