Each year, about 33,000 Americans are killed with guns. In 2010, 54 percent of those murdered were under the age of 30. Gun-related deaths are rapidly rising and if this alarming trend continues, by the end of 2015, the number of gun deaths by a firearm of Americans under the age of 26 will surpass the number of deaths of young people caused by car accidents. There is a national gun violence crisis that is affecting our youth, and young people on college campuses around the country are no exception to this epidemic.
Amidst the national gun violence prevention debate is an ongoing discussion about the protection of America’s youth and the roles that college campuses and universities play in protecting their students. The widely televised campus shootings that have occurred over the last decade are usually what come to mind when individuals think about college campuses and guns. One of the deadliest college shootings to date occurred on April 16, 2007 at Virginia Tech, when a gunman shot and killed 32 students and faculty members and wounded another 17 individuals in two separate attacks on the same day. Although colleges and universities report significantly lower crime rates than national averages, gunmen have killed 30 people in mass campus shootings since the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, highlighting the need for smarter gun violence prevention policies and response strategies.
Institutions of higher education aim to provide valuable educational opportunities for individuals who wish to pursue them. They are expected to promote safe educational spaces that enhance one’s professional repertoire and fine-tune one’s ability to think critically, solve problems, and create concrete solutions. At the same time, institutions are tasked with keeping students safe.
This report will discuss the implications of gun violence on college campuses and universities while examining the roles that local and state governments, as well as the federal government, play in gun violence prevention. In addition, it will outline grassroots and grass-tops solutions that promote local-level organizing and work to significantly decrease gun violence on college campuses and universities across the country.