American Sociological Association

Sociologists Receive ASA Funding to Study Impact of Laws Permitting Concealed Weapons on College Campuses

November 17, 2017

If you are a student at a public college or university in Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah, or Wisconsin, the person sitting next to you in class may legally have a handgun under that collegiate sweatshirt he or she is wearing. In these 10 states, legislation allows students and faculty members who have concealed weapon licenses to bring their weapons, such as handguns, to campus. In 2014, bills proposing similar legislation were introduced in 14 states. Yet virtually nothing is known about the impact of allowing concealed carry license holders to bring their weapons into classrooms and other learning environments such as student activity centers, libraries, laboratories, media centers, etc.. For example, does knowing that another person in the class might have a handgun inhibit students from expressing controversial or unpopular ideas in discussions? Are faculty more hesitant to express certain ideas knowing the students in their classes may be armed? If these effects exist, do they differ depending on the demographic characteristics of the students or the faculty?

ASA Council issued a special, one-time request for proposals to provide the resources to begin exploring this issue, and we are pleased to announce grants to three teams of sociologists engaged in groundbreaking work.

The grant recipients are:

Terressa Benz, Oakland University, and Joseph DeAngelis, University of Idaho, for Campus Carry, Fear, and Academic Freedom: A Longitudinal Analysis. $7,999.
This project will follow up on a baseline electronic attitudinal survey Benz and DeAngelis administered to a random sample of faculty, staff, and students at the University of Idaho eight months after a campus carry law went into effect. Using a second round of electronic surveys and a limited number of focus groups, the project will examine the law’s impact over the course of three years on feelings of safety, free exchange of ideas on campus, grading practices and grade inflation, faculty-student-staff relationships, support for campus carry, and carry practice.

Patricia Maloney, Brandon Wagner, and Lauren Newmyer, Texas Tech University, for Longitudinal and Contagion Effects of Campus Carry on Faculty and Students at a Large Southwestern State University. $7,227.
This project examines the factors that affect faculty and student attitudes toward campus carry, how faculty and students perceive campus carry affects classroom environment and faculty/student relationships, whether these attitudes change over the course of a semester, how faculty attitudes about campus carry impact student attitudes, and whether faculty attitudes about campus carry disproportionately affect new students.

Jennifer McMahon-Howard, Heidi L. Scherer, and James T. McCafferty, Kennesaw State University, for Examining the Effects of Passing a Campus Carry Law: Comparing Perceptions of Safety, Campus Activities, and Crime Before and After Georgia’s New Campus Carry Law. $8,000.
This project examines a campus carry law’s impact on perceptions of safety (feeling safe on campus, fear of crime, confidence in campus police), campus life activities (controversial class discussions, pursuing academic misconduct charges), and crime on campus (self-reported victimization, crimes reported to police) over the course of the first year of the law’s implementation. The investigators surveyed faculty, staff, and students at Kennesaw State University immediately before Georgia passed its campus carry law and will use these data for comparison.


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