Opinion: Students have right to defend themselves in violent world

Georgia’s new campus carry bill could mean the difference between life or death for a student who is being threatened by a deadly weapon. As a student at Georgia Tech, it is comforting to know that the right to protect myself no longer ends the instant I walk onto campus grounds. I spend a huge part of my day on campus, and I don’t want to be a sitting duck to a violent criminal. We all have a God-given right to protect and defend ourselves.

Georgia’s new campus carry law recognizes that Georgians, like Americans everywhere, are increasingly taking responsibility for their self-protection. We have seen time and again where law enforcement cannot always protect us. Georgia is the 10th state to allow law-abiding students to carry concealed weapons on campus. This year, more than a dozen states are considering campus carry bills in their legislatures. Lawmakers are simply responding to Americans’ growing demand for more freedom when it comes to self-protecting.

More than 14.5 million adult Americans now have a permit to carry a concealed handgun. That is a 215 percent increase in the last decade. This surge in permits corresponds closely with opinion polls on guns. According to Pew Research Center polls in 2012, respondents said by a margin of 48 percent to 37 percent that owning a gun “protected them from being crime victims” as opposed to “putting people’s safety at risk.” By 2016, people’s positive impression of guns had grown to a margin of 58 percent to 37 percent. More and more Georgians are embracing their Second Amendment freedoms and are looking for ways to eliminate barriers to exercising that right.

Contrary to what gun control advocates say, campus carry laws have not led to chaos or Wild Wild West scenarios. In fact, when Utah began allowing students to carry a concealed firearm more than a decade ago, the campus experienced a drop in the rates of violent crime, forcible rapes, and aggravated assaults. Everyone is safer on a campus that allows law-abiding gun owners to protect themselves, their fellow students and professors. It’s not surprising given the fact that, as a group, concealed carry permit holders are among the nation’s most law-abiding citizens.

Finally, many campus carry critics claim that because mass shootings account for less than one-tenth of one percent of gun violence in the country, having a concealed carry permit on campus doesn’t make sense. Fires don’t happen very often in my apartment either, but I still keep a fire extinguisher.

The new law isn’t everything I had wanted, but I will take any opportunity I am granted to better prepare and defend myself. I believe in being as well-armed as I am allowed to be. I feel safer knowing that my peers have more options to protect themselves and our campus from threats. I just want to defend myself. I want my campus to be safe. Georgia’s new campus carry law is part of the growing national movement toward expanding our Second Amendment freedoms.

Ja’Quan Taylor is campus leader for Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) at Georgia Tech, where he is a student. He is president of the Georgia Tech Marksmanship Club where he uses school funds to promote firearm safety, discussion, and fun.