After the tragic shooting at UC Santa Barbara on May 23, the gun control debate has once again returned to the front page. Former Mayors Thomas Menino (Boston) and Michael Bloomberg (NYC) teamed up with current mayor of Boston (and BC grad) Martin Walsh to affirm their stance: keep guns off college campuses.
Many are calling for stricter legislation, especially friends and family members of the victims at UCSB, but in several states the gun lobby is pushing to give students the right to carry guns on campus. Nineteen states last year introduced bills that allow guns in colleges and universities. The gun lobby continues pushing this legislature despite polls that indicate students, faculty members and law enforcement leaders largely oppose firearms on campus.
“Make no mistake: The gun lobby is more interested in advancing its ideology than in protecting the lives of students,” said Menino, Bloomberg and Walsh in an opinions piece for the Boston Globe.
They cite several fears with proposed “campus carry” laws, like the one passed in Idaho this March.
One issue is the prevalence of binge drinking and illegal drug use on college campuses; these activities account for a majority of violence among college-aged students. Throwing guns into the mix could produce a recipe for disaster, turning drunken fistfights into lethal shootouts.
Furthermore, the allowance of guns on college campuses threatens to create increased suicide rates. As the third-leading cause of death for college students, suicide attempts may become increasingly fatal. Students who attempt suicide via drug overdose succeed less than three percent of the time; with the help of faculty, family and friends, many are able to recover. Suicide with guns, however, result in death over 85 percent of the time.
The three mayors agree, saying “College presidents also know what’s best for their bottom line: a safe, inviting environment where students can worry about grades, not guns.”
College carry laws have been held back in several states, including Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Montana, Pennsylvania and Texas, largely due to the efforts of Everytown for Gun Safety. A bipartisan coalition of mayors, mothers, gun violence survivors and over a million grassroots supporters, the organization continues its fight against guns in schools.
As a hub for colleges and universities, Boston could be highly affected by legislation allowing students to carry guns on campus. Menino and Walsh will continue to fight the gun lobby to keep Boston safe.
“We wish the Class of 2014 the very best,” said the three. “We also hope that the newest alumni will support their alma maters’ right to adopt policies that put safety over politics.”