Opinion: Universities are centers of higher education. So why are we senselessly killing each other with guns?

Edy Zoo

Gun violence on college campuses is a national tragedy that needs to be addressed.

In most states, it is relatively easy to purchase a firearm.Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash

KEY Takeaways:

  • In the past decade, gun violence has increased in American universities, with shootings becoming too familiar on campuses across the country.
  • There are an average of 18 shootings on college campuses each year, resulting in 38 deaths and 58 injuries.
  • The most commonly cited reason for gun violence on college campuses is mental health issues. College can be very stressful for students, leading to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.
  • To help reduce gun violence in universities: improve security measures; make it more challenging for students to get guns; provide more support for students with mental health issues; educate everyone about what to do during an active shooter situation.

It's no secret that America has a gun violence problem. But what may come as a surprise is that this problem is not just limited to our streets and neighborhoods. It's also prevalent in our universities.

In fact, according to recent statistics, gun violence has been on the rise in American universities, with shootings becoming all too common on campuses across the country. And tonight, we have another case to add to the growing statistics with the shooting at the University of Virginia.

So why is this happening? What are the causes of gun violence in universities? And what can be done about it? These are some of the questions I'll be exploring in this article.

The Alarming Statistics of Gun Violence on College Campuses

Statistics on gun violence in universities paint a grim picture of the state of affairs in America. Every year, there are an average of 18 shootings on college campuses, resulting in an average of 38 deaths and 58 injuries. Unfortunately, this problem is only getting worse; since 2013, there have been 142 school shootings in the United States.

Take the 2017-2018 school year; there were 29 shootings on college campuses in the United States. Of these, 11 were fatal. This represents a significant increase from previous years; or consider the 2015-2016 school year, there were only 15 shootings on college campuses.

Want more disturbing facts? Suicides account for the majority of gun-related deaths on university grounds. A study of 100 colleges and universities found that there are 3.5 times as many suicides as homicides each year.

And while there are many shootings, only a handful classify them as mass shootings. So technically, we don't have a definition for that kind of carnage. So instead, we have a parameter:

Most terms define a minimum of three or four victims of gun violence (not including the shooter or in an inner city) in a short period of time...."

With that working definition in mind, there have been eight mass shootings at colleges and universities in the last ten years. These incidents have resulted in the deaths of 33 people and the injuries of 63 others.

Causes of gun violence in universities and what can be done

Several high-profile mass shootings have occurred in the past decade on college campuses. These tragedies have left students, faculty, and staff members reeling. They have also raised many questions about gun violence and its causes.

And while there is no single answer to this complex question, several factors contribute to gun violence on college campuses. These include:

Mental Health Issues. One of the most commonly cited reasons for gun violence on college campuses is mental health issues. College can be a very stressful time for students.

They are often away from home for the first time, managing their finances and academics and trying to figure out who they are as people. For some students, this can be overwhelming. It can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.

A 2017 study found that 1 in 4 college students has a diagnosable mental health disorder. This means that there is a significant population of students who are struggling with mental health issues but are not getting the help they need. This can lead to feelings of isolation, desperation, and hopelessness—all of which can contribute to gun violence.

Access to Guns. Another factor contributing to gun violence on college campuses is access to guns. In most states, it is relatively easy to purchase a firearm.

In addition, many students come from homes where guns are already present. This combination of factors can create a dangerous situation if guns fall into the wrong hands.

Also, many colleges do not have strict policies regarding guns on campus. This means that even if a student is not legally allowed to possess a weapon, they may still be able to bring one onto campus without anyone knowing. This makes it difficult for school officials to prevent gun violence before it happens.

Lack of Campus Security. Another issue contributing to gun violence on college campuses is the lack of security measures. Many schools do not have metal detectors or security guards at their entrances. This makes it easy to bring a weapon onto campus without being detected.

Moreover, many college campuses are spread out over large areas. This can make it difficult for law enforcement officials to respond quickly in an active shooter situation. By the time they arrive, the damage may already be done.

How gun violence has changed university life

More online classes. We have observed that the number of online courses universities offer has steadily increased over the past decade. This is partly due to the increased security measures that make it harder for students to get to class.

But it is also because many students feel safer taking courses from home than on campus. In a recent poll, 25% of students cited safety concerns as their primary reason for preferring to take college courses from home.

Fewer social activities. Many colleges now limit the number of social activities on campus to decrease the risk of violence. Additionally, universities have banned alcohol from these events to reduce the amount of alcohol-related incidents. This is because many students are hesitant to attend large crowds events because of the risk of violence.

College students used to enjoy participating in lively parties and dances but now prefer the safety of smaller gatherings. Some students have turned to drugs and alcohol to fill the void left by the decreased number of school-sponsored events. This presents another challenge: a direct side effect of gun violence in American universities and colleges.

What can be done to reduce gun violence in universities?

It's time for something to be done about this growing problem. But, first, universities need to re-evaluate their policies regarding guns on campus. Currently, 23 states ban firearms from being carried on college campuses, and 24 states allow individual schools to make their policies. It's time for more states to follow suit and ban guns from universities altogether.

Furthermore, changing the culture surrounding guns on campus is essential. Students must be more aware of the dangers of firearms in their dorm rooms or backpack. They need to know that just because they may feel safe with a gun doesn't mean that it can't be used against them at a moment's notice.

And while there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this complex problem, universities can take a few more steps to help reduce gun violence on their campuses.

  1. Improve security measures. This may include increasing the number of security guards, installing metal detectors at entrances, and requiring students to wear ID badges at all times.
  2. Make it more challenging for students to get guns in the first place. This could involve stricter background checks and mandatory waiting periods for those who want to purchase firearms.
  3. Provide more support for students with mental health issues. Unfortunately, many mass shooters have been found to suffer from mental illness, so universities must do everything possible to identify and help those at risk. This may involve increasing funding for counseling services and hiring more mental health professionals.
  4. Educate students, faculty, and staff about what to do in an active shooter situation. Run regular drills so that everyone knows what to do if someone begins shooting on campus. Make sure everyone knows where the nearest exits are and where to find shelter if they can't make it outside.

In brief, gun violence is a severe problem in American universities, and it's only getting worse. Something needs to be done to address this issue, and universities must play a role in the solution. By taking a few simple steps, universities can help make their campuses safer for everyone.

What are your thoughts on reducing gun violence on University and College campuses in the United States? Do you think the lack of gun control, mental health issues, or the prevalence of violent video games is to blame? Let me know in the comments below.

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Edy Zoo is an author who writes about social subjects. He contributes to the ever-growing library of social critics. He approaches local social subjects and local news covering Auburn-Opelika and surrounding cities from an objective point of view. He also holds liberal views.

Auburn, AL

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