Opinion: Data show campus carry is unwise and unnecessary

Someone posted this sardonic sign on the door to a lab at the University of Georgia earlier this year to mark the new campus carry law.

University of North Georgia professor Matthew Boedy continues to examine the impact of campus carry on Georgia’s public campuses.

Like many faculty members, Boedy opposes guns in his classroom and has become one of the state’s most ardent and active researchers on the question.

Georgia joined a handful of states permitting guns in its institutions of higher education when Gov. Nathan Deal signed the campus carry bill in May.  The governor signed the bill despite widespread opposition by students and parents.

In fact, while campus carry was being debated this year in the Legislature, Deal received 14,873 calls, emails and letters opposed to it. During that period, his office reported only 145 calls, emails and letters in favor of campus carry.

Under the law, anyone with a concealed-weapon permit can carry firearms on all public college and university campuses, with exceptions that include dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses, and buildings used for athletic events. On-campus child care centers are also excluded, as are areas on campus where high school students attend class. No signs are posted on campus identifying which areas are off-limits, and staff have been told they are not allowed to ask whether someone is legally carrying a gun

With that background, here is Boedy’s latest research into the new law.

By Matthew Boedy

We have seen several reports that there have been no problems enacting Georgia’s new “guns on campus” law. The fatal shooting of a Texas Tech police officer by a 19-year-old student shows us that the debate over college students and guns is far from over.

While we on campus watch with great interest some of our brave colleagues fight the Georgia law in court, this lack of accidental shootings or other similar issues should not convince anyone the law has been an effective solution to any crime problems.

As I have argued before in this space, “campus carry” is a solution in search of a problem. This is not only an unwise law, but just not needed.

What’s the evidence for the latter claim?

Matthew Boedy

I asked campus police at Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, and my institution, the University of North Georgia, to provide reports of any victim using a gun to deter an assailant from July 1 to Sept. 30, the first three months of this law.

There are zero such reports, according to the agencies.

This mirrors my research of campuses in other “campus carry” states like Utah and Texas which also had no reports of anyone using a gun to stop a crime for years.

And this mirrors national studies. Stopping a crime with a gun is an exceedingly rare event. In 2013 the Violence Policy Center reported that based on federal data, in the five years from 2007-2011, there were 338,700 instances of people using guns to stop or somehow interfere with crimes. That’s .09 percent of the roughly 29.6 million victims of attempted or completed crime.

Or consider the “pro-gun” scholars at the Cato Institute who searched news accounts and found 5,000 incidents of self-defense use of a gun from 2003 to 2011. But they found that only 285 of those people had a concealed carry license, aka the “good guys” gun advocates consistently tell us we need more of. While they found 14 cases of legally armed college students stopping crime off-campus in those eight years, they did not find one case of such an act on campus.

Finally, consider a recent analysis by a University of Texas scholar that concluded there is no measurable “deterrent effect” for guns on campus. In other words, robbers aren’t discouraged because they think someone might have a gun.

Now, gun advocates will rightly say in general many crimes go unreported. But I must ask, are there students or faculty in Georgia who have used a gun to stop crime? If so, why – particularly in the case of attempted rape or robbery – wouldn’t that gun owner report to campus police they had thwarted such crimes? Wouldn’t the rest of us need that information?

If there are such people out there, they confirm what I recently suggested on this blog: the effect of guns on campus is a furthering of an individualism of education. I have protected myself, and don’t need to consider others.

Now this lack of recent reports should not surprise anyone. Campuses are generally very safe places. And my school, UNG, is representative of all other public schools in non-urban locations. In other words, the pattern in all likelihood would be the same on those campuses.

And let’s not forget the stated reason Gov. Deal gave for signing House Bill 280: some students have to walk through “dangerous territory” to get to these safe campuses.

Many people inferred he was mainly referring to Atlanta-based campuses.

The number of rape, robberies, and burglaries – those crimes most cited by gun advocates as the crimes guns would stop – has been in decline in the Atlanta Police district that includes Georgia Tech and Georgia State since 2014, according to APD statistics. And any decrease can’t be directly correlated to the presence of more guns on the street from the state’s own concealed carry enacted in 2014. In fact, one recent study suggests right-to-carry states have higher violent crime rates.

What is most interesting is robberies of pedestrians in that district – the very crime the governor implied in his signing statement. Those have also been declining the last three years I looked at, according to APD numbers. And despite a rash of robberies of college students in September (see here and here), still the number of such robberies in September of 2017 (18) is less than that month in 2016 and 2015 (19 and 22, respectively). And by the way, none of those students used a gun in an attempt to stop the robbery.

We can and should continue to debate giving the right to carry a gun on campus to a select few (those over 21 and who passed a background check). But if even those few aren’t encountering a need for a gun, why have the right?

All these numbers and lack of reports make a powerful argument to those considering carrying a gun on campus. It is just not needed.

 

Reader Comments 0

46 comments
USMC2841
USMC2841

"But if even those few aren’t encountering a need for a gun, why have the right?"  or  But even if women aren't being mistreated by government, why have suffrage?

USMC2841
USMC2841

This is the latest of several times you've referenced Prof. Boedy's opinions.  He seems to intentionally overlook several key points and rely on deceit to make others.

1) The Texas Tech shooter was NOT a concealed carry permit holder.  To invoke him in the argument is disingenuous at best.  A simple Google search shows he was in possession of drugs, which shows his disdain for laws and would have disqualified him from receiving a CCP.

2)  To claim that no crimes have been thwarted by gun owners is to conclude that only gun use in self-defense thwarts the crime.  Those practicing open carry are less likely to be victims of crimes.

3)  Which other Civil Rights does Prof. Boedy believe are to be ceded upon entering campus?

4)  UNG has approximately 800 active members in their Corps of Cadets.  Do his views of firearms extend to them?  Has he approached the faculty to discuss the disarmament of the Corps?


redweather
redweather

Unwise and unnecessary but here to stay as long as Republicans run the show. Next topic. 

Mary Jo Burkholder Beck
Mary Jo Burkholder Beck

The data also showed there has been zero incidents of people carrying guns on campus.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

From the new Stanford study:


Examining decades of crime data, Stanford Law Professor John Donohue’s analysis shows that violent crime in RTC states was estimated to be 13 to 15 percent higher – over a period of 10 years – than it would have been had the state not adopted the law.

The working paper, released this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, challenges the effectiveness of RTC laws and could have a significant impact on pending litigation between the National Rifle Association and the state of California.

Making a ‘synthetic state’

Donohue’s paper builds on the National Academies’ National Research Council’s 2004 reportinvestigating guns and violence.  While that report debunked claims that RTC laws had been shown to reduce crime, the 16 experts on the panel were not able to definitively conclude that carrying concealed weapons had an effect – positive or negative – on violent crime. Their uncertainty was rooted in the fragility of estimates that were derived from differing statistical models applied to panel data available at the time.

“The committee found that answers to some of the most pressing questions cannot be addressed with existing data and research methods, however well designed,” the report stated.

The most convincing comparison would take two otherwise identical states and observe violent crime when one of them adopts a RTC law. Donohue and his team employed a new statistical technique that creates a “synthetic control,” which attempts to find the best possible comparison for the RTC-adopting state drawn from among other states that had no RTC law at the time.

The synthetic control approach, a research method now widely applied in economics and political science, uses an algorithm that combines crime patterns from several non-RTC states – or during the time before states adopted RTC – to create an artificial or synthetic state.

Take Texas, which passed RTC laws in 1996. Donohue’s comparison for Texas came from combining data from California – a non-RTC state – and Nebraska and Wisconsin, which hadn’t pass RTC laws at that time. By weighting the violent crime data from these three states for the period from 1986 to 1996, he produced a synthetic crime rate similar to Texas’ crime rate in the 10 years prior to adopting RTC laws.

Donohue then projected the synthetic state’s crime rate for the next 10 years and compared it against Texas’ crime rate post-RTC passage. He performed the same analysis on the 33 states that enacted RTC laws over his data period and found a strikingly consistent picture.

On average, RTC states had aggregate violent crime rates around 7 percent higher than the synthetic states five years after RTC law passage. After 10 years, the gap increased to almost 15 percent.

“All this work is based on statistical models,” Donohue said. “When the models all generate similar estimates, it increases your confidence that you have captured the true effect.”

Donohue had further reasons for that confidence. Compared to the 2004 report, he was able to study an additional 14 years of crime data and include 11 additional states that adopted RTC laws. While the earlier panel data results were sensitive to changes in the explanatory variables (incarceration, population, poverty and unemployment rates among others) used in the statistical model, such changes had little effect on the synthetic controls estimates, which again increases confidence in the estimates, Donohue said.

RTC laws increase violent crime

Donohue applied the synthetic control approach using four previously published statistical data models that had generated conflicting panel data estimates of the impact of RTC laws on violent crime. In all four cases, the synthetic control estimates showed increases in overall violent crime of 13-15 percent.

“There is not even the slightest hint in the data that RTC laws reduce overall violent crime,” Donohue stated in the paper.

To put the significance of a 15-percent increase in violent crime in perspective, the paper notes that “the average RTC state would have to double its prison population to counteract the RTC-induced increase in violent crime.”

Donohue’s team engaged in an array of different tests to ensure that the findings were sound. For example, Donohue noticed that Hawaii was included as part of a synthetic control more than any other single state. So, he re-ran the entire synthetic controls analysis while excluding Hawaii to see if there were any major changes; there weren’t. He then did the same for every other state that contributed to the synthetic controls for any of the 33 adopting states, and the resulting estimates showed very little variation: in all cases RTC laws were linked with higher violent crime rates.

“That was a comfort,” he said.

Another comfort was the increased rates of incarceration and hiring of law enforcement personnel Donohue noticed among RTC states.

“This suggested that RTC states were not simply experiencing higher crime because they decided to lock up fewer criminals and hire fewer police,” Donohue said. “The relatively greater increases in incarceration and police in RTC states implies that, if anything, our synthetic controls estimates may be understating the increase in violent crime, which was pretty persuasive to me.”

Guns and value

The debate over RTC laws comes at a crucial time for the state of California, which in April was sued by the National Rifle Association, challenging state gun control laws.

Because the heart of the case is whether there is a constitutional right to carry a gun, which would make RTC laws moot, Donohue said there is a high likelihood the case will ultimately be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court. His paper has been included in the court filings in federal district court.

Having a gun can generate a benefit under certain circumstances and will impose costs in other circumstances, and sound policy must consider the overall magnitude of these conflicting effects, Donohue said.  RTC proponents often overlook how often gun-carrying leads to lost and stolen guns, which are then in the hands of criminals.

Moreover, one can incur all of the costs of buying and carrying a gun, only to find that a criminal attack is too sudden to effectively employ the gun defensively.  Donohue cites a 2013 report from the National Crime Victimization Survey that showed in 99.2 percent of the violent attacks in the United States, no gun is ever used defensively – despite the nearly 300 million guns in circulation in the country today.

For most Americans, said Donohue, carrying a gun to avoid a criminal attack is similar to thinking that having a weekly brain scan will save your life, without considering the potential hazardous effects.

“If we gave 300 million people a brain scan, we would save a certain number of lives,” Donohue said. “But you wouldn’t want to advocate that treatment without considering how many lives would be lost by exposing so many to radiation damage.  One needs to consider both the costs and benefits of any treatment or policy.  If the net effect of more gun carrying is that violent crime is elevated, then RTC laws seem much less appealing. This paper may have an impact in making people think differently about these issues.”

Astropig
Astropig


Again, the 2nd amendment to the constitution isn't about preventing crime.

This battle is over,in Georgia anyway.The law won. Time to move on.

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weetamoe
weetamoe

@MaureenDowney These anti- second amendment jeremiads have as many unsupported arguments as Hillary's "why I didn't win" excuses.

Astropig
Astropig

@weetamoe @MaureenDowney


Note that the "2nd Amendment" is only mentioned by people here...that recognize the 2nd Amendment.


Also note the hypocrisy.This space severely criticized the president of KSU just last week for not "standing up" for a few cheerleaders 1st Amendment rights.But when its time to stand up for other rights...

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@MaureenDowney

Wow.  In order to come to his anti-gun conclusion, Donohue had to create a "synthetic" control.  In other words, he made s**t up and then compared actuals to his hypothetical control.

Here is a rebuttal of this "study".  http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/07/10/stanford-law-prof-gets-it-wrong-on-guns-right-to-carry-reduces-crime-not-other-way-around.html


The greatest predictor of crime and violence is to look for areas with one certain demographic.  However, we can't talk about such things lest we be considered "racissss".

Spinoza
Spinoza

@Astropig @weetamoe @MaureenDowney Stupid.  Free speech is the cornerstone of all democracies.  Guns are regulated in all other wealthy democracies and they are just and free and safer than the U.S. 

Spinoza
Spinoza

@weetamoe @MaureenDowney I didn't see any argument in your comments but quite a bit in the postings.  The U.S. is an outlier on this issue and we pay for it in lives everyday.  More people killed since 1968 with guns than all our wars combined. 

Spinoza
Spinoza

@Astropig No, the second amendment was about militia and a far right ideological court merely ignored all of the peer reviewed scholarship and went with their political views. 

Spinoza
Spinoza

@Lee_CPA2 @MaureenDowney A laughable piece of advocacy research from a Fox viewer.  More predictable than the rain.  There actually have been studies comparing adjacent states on this issue and gun crimes are higher in states with carry laws.

Astropig
Astropig

Boedy is and has been making a strawman argument on this subject since the beginning.He knows this,but he thinks that you are too stupid to recognize it.


The framers had no idea what the "crime rate" would be on Georgia college campuses in 2017.It wasn't important to them.There was crime in their day and yes,criminals used guns.They didn't write the 2nd amendment to deter individual crime,except in a much broader sense.


To them,a tyrannical government was a much greater crime than some guy stealing a shock of wheat or selling untaxed whiskey.That's why they gave the citizenry the right to keep and bear arms-to keep the Matthew Boedy's of the world from imposing their will on an unwilling population.I think that Mr. Boedy is just a wee bit bitter that they have succeeded.It comes through in every essay.


Like the publisher,the author here makes no mention whatsoever of the inconvenient little matter of the 2nd amendment.You don't have to wonder why.If he did,the conversation would soon turn to why you have to give up that enumerated right while they get to keep theirs.They don't want to have that little talk because then everyone would see what they really want-control over you.I'm encouraged that every time this comes up on these pages,the vast,overwhelming majority of posters come down on the side of freedom.I'm sure that sticks in the craws that it needs to stick in.

Molgen
Molgen

@Astropig The US Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Scalia, ruled that the 2nd Amendment is not absolute, and that states may regulate the right to bear arms. So who and where are subject to regulation (you don't seriously think people should be allowed to carry guns on airplanes, do you?). James Madison, the author of the Bill of Rights, which includes the 2nd Amendment, and Thomas Jefferson both banned guns on the campus of the very universities they founded. Do some research if you don't believe me.  

Astropig
Astropig

@Molgen @Astropig


No reasonable person is demanding to carry a firearm on an airplane,in a courtroom or any other nonsensical place that you people drag into the conversation to try to abridge a persons rights.In those places,there are security measures in place that make a gun unnecessary for personal protection.The assumption is that it is unneeded,and for the most part that assumption is correct.


But a college campus is not a sealed aluminum tube where everyone has been searched multiple times for deadly weapons.There are not metal detectors on Northside Drive to keep the bad guys off of Tech's campus.Criminals don't observe chivalry when they discover a vulnerable female lost and  alone after dark on 14th street.


Another strawman that goes up in flames.


Molgen
Molgen

@Astropig @Molgen I note you said in another comment that the 2nd amendment isn't about crime. So who's making straw man arguments? Also, this isn't about carrying on North Avenue. It's about carrying on campus - in classrooms and laboratories. States may legally prohibit, or not, guns on campus. 

Astropig
Astropig

@Molgen @Astropig


Just trying to explain how people that believe in the 2nd are reasonable,law abiding citizens.Some zealots believe that all rights are absolute,but the vast majority of people want a lawful exercise of their rights.That's not strawman at all.


As to your other point-Yes! The state of Georgia has the right to do what it just did-make permit holders firearms legal on campus.If you disagree with that,you need to get the law changed.My side got the law changed and I'm quite happy with it.  

Molgen
Molgen

@Astropig @Molgen Yes, and the folk who don't like the law can try to get it repealed. That's the way it works. I will note that the vast majority of students, faculty and staff - the people who actually live and work on college campuses - don't want guns on campus. It's the people who don't live or work on a college campus who want the campus carry law. 

Astropig
Astropig

@Molgen @Astropig


Then do what we've done:


1) Register

2) Vote

3) Get the law changed


But expect some people to oppose you.

Spinoza
Spinoza

@Astropig There is nothing in the constitution or any in court decision about having a gun to oppose the government because you take it upon yourself to deem it "tyrannical."  Do some reading and find out.  It is called "treason." Merely repeating "second amendment" is not an argument.  And "freedom" is a vacuous rhetorical device when used by people like you. There is as much or more "freedom" in every other Western country and they don't feel the slightest less free with strict gun regulations.

Spinoza
Spinoza

@Astropig @Molgen  Not a straw man at all and you didn't bother to read the decision did you or respond to the second part of his remarks about Jefferson and Hamilton.  College campuses are among the safest public spaces in this country and they are protected by trained campus police.  There isn't the slightest evidence to suggest that allowing untrained students to conceal weapons is necessary or would prevent crime in any way.  Your ignorance is breathtaking and so, so typical.

ELSTINCO
ELSTINCO

Baloney.

The data show that in every state with campus carry, there are ZERO problems.

Zero.

Zip.

Zilch.

As in, NONE.

Quit lyin' you friggin' communists.

Starik
Starik

How many GT and GSU robberies were deterred by the knowledge that students might have a gun? Don't know. They didn't happen. I, for one, wouldn't want to walk home late at night at either campus. A gun would be comforting if I had to. 

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

"But if even those few aren’t encountering a need for a gun, why have the right"

Following that logic, the majority of citizens have never had the need to petition the Government for a redress of grievances, so why have the 1st  Amendment.    While we're at it, might as well do away with secure in their persons, houses, papers and  effects (4th), how about the due process of law (5th),  speedy trial (6th),  or cruel and unusual punishment (8th).  I mean, since the majority of us have never had the cause to USE these rights, why have them - according to Boedy.


Interesting that Boedy cites 338,700 cases where a crime was thwarted by a citizen with a gun (some researchers have placed that number well into the millions), but would deny his fellow citizens the same opportunity to protect themselves.  


Once again, I would invite Boedy to get out of night classes at Ga State at 9pm, walk over to MARTA Five Points station to take the train north to Alpharetta.  Do THAT for a few weeks and get back to us.

Astropig
Astropig

@Lee_CPA2


Brilliant rebuttal. Boedy has looked foolish since this debate began because he's trying to use fear and implausible hypotheticals to make his points.His opponents have stuck to the constitutional argument (for which he has no reply) and he has pushed himself farther and farther out on the fringe.

Cats_Resist
Cats_Resist

"Deal received 14,873 calls, emails and letters opposed to it. During that period, his office reported only 145 calls, emails and letters in favor of campus carry." Plus, there was no practical or rational justification for the law. 


Our congressional districts are gerrymandered and GA legislators are accountable neither to those they supposedly represent nor to truth and reason. The campus carry law is evidence that constitutional democracy in Georgia is a farce.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

Boo hoo. Tender snowflake living in a bubble. The slant he placed on "data" would be rejected in his "academic" world.


I must assume that Boedy doesn't go to malls, grocery stores, public parks, Walmart, MARTA, state parks, etc., as licensed concealed weapons are allowed in these places.


I also assume he wants to make drugs illegal so that people won't use them- oh- never mind.

Tcope
Tcope

If he was not just trying to make a point as opposed to doing research, he would have surveyed criminals that operate in the areas where these schools are located to find out if they knew college students could carry guns and if that fact affected their criminal actions.

FredricoAlverez
FredricoAlverez

Data? LOL! there is no data. Just emotional conjecture. You would be better served to skip college Avoid the liberal professor brainwash and learn a trade instead. At least you'll have a job. And develop some real "common sense".

RoswellGal
RoswellGal

Thank you for this important info. My son is freshman on a GA campus and I'm so concerned.

ELSTINCO
ELSTINCO

@RoswellGal - This article is baloney.

The data show that in every state with campus carry for those with state permits, there are ZERO problems related to anyone licensed to carry.

Zero.

Zip.

Zilch.

As in, NONE.. The 19-year-old who shot the cop? He wasn't legally permitted to carry a gun, on campus or anywhere else. One must be 21 years or older to obtain a concealed carry permit, ergo, the fact that the law currently prohibits licensed carry on campuses did NOTHING to stop him.

Because prohibitive laws can't do what the anti-carry opponents insist they will.

And they KNOW it.

You and your son will have nothing to worry about.

Astropig
Astropig

I asked campus police at Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, and my institution, the University of North Georgia, to provide reports of any victim using a gun to deter an assailant from July 1 to Sept. 30, the first three months of this law.

There are zero such reports, according to the agencies."


Did you ask them how many licensed owners used a gun in the commission of a crime? Why not?

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@Astropig Georgia law prohibits police from even asking people with guns whether they have concealed-carry permits.

Astropig
Astropig

CC has been the law since July 1.


The only data that matters:


ZERO incidents.ZERO injuries. 


When the battle's over,I generally make a nod to the other side for a principled stand for what they believe in and wish them better luck next go 'round.Not this time.Because he's such a fringe zealot,I'm wallowing in,savoring,relishing every second of Boedy's defeat.It's like a refreshing waterfall of comfort washing over me every time I read where he keeps beating this dead horse,because I know that we'll have CC from now on.


Please publish more of these.They're like nourishment for my soul.



alt2AJC
alt2AJC

@Astropig 

What we can't ignore is that Boedy was completely wrong about Campus Carry and its after effects. In any rational forum he would hereafter be ignored.

Astropig
Astropig

@alt2AJC @Astropig


More college students died in Lake Lanier this summer than died at the hands of legally licensed gun owners.(student or otherwise)Why doesn't he write editorials demanding that we shut down Lake Lanier?

weetamoe
weetamoe

What on earth is "an individualism of education"?

Cats_Resist
Cats_Resist

@weetamoe Thinking of education as solely a personal and not a collective good.


I.e., part and parcel of typical republican me-me-me ism.