College presidents: Ban all guns from campuses

Campuses would be safer if more universities disarmed their students, said some college presidents who attended a conference Monday on reducing school violence.

The annual meeting of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities was attended by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and college presidents from around the country. One speaker, Oglethorpe University President Lawrence Schall, argued that the best way to reduce campus violence is to prohibit students and faculty from carrying guns.

“We believe that more guns makes us less safe, not more safe,” he said in a speech.

Schall is the author of an open letter to legislators urging them to oppose “legislation allowing guns on our campuses and in our classrooms.” Over 350 college presidents have signed the letter.

Such legislation prevailed most recently in the state of Colorado, where proponents of concealed carry laws have argued that instead of making people safer, campus gun bans actually put everyone at greater risk.

“For years, colleges have cultivated a deadly illusion that a gun-free policy makes us safer,” said David Burnett, a spokesperson for Students for Concealed Carry, in a recent statement. “The mass shootings we’ve seen in recent years only prove killers don’t play by the rules. Today we’re calling on legislators in every state to change those rules and stop colleges from trampling on the rights of good people wanting to defend themselves.”

Some college presidents who spoke at the event Monday also suggested improving mental health services in order to catch would-be shooters before they act or acquire weapons.

Secretary Duncan praised President Obama’s 23 executive orders on gun violence, one of which calls universities to develop better emergency response systems.

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