Amanda Collins was a young college student in Nevada when she was brutally attacked and raped at gunpoint on campus a few years ago. Collins usually carried a concealed firearm, but was forced to leave her firearm at home when she went to school -- the campus was a gun-free zone. The rape occurred just a few feet from the office of campus security, but since no one knew the attack was occurring, no one came to help her. The man who attacked her went on to rape two other women and murder one.
Collins' story is just one example of a simple truth: Threats to personal safety do not disappear when you step onto a campus. Gun-free zone or not, students still face the possibility of encountering an armed criminal and have the right to carry the best tool for personal protection. After all, only the law-abiding obey gun-free zones. A person intent on doing harm will not.
That's why it's so important that every law-abiding Alaskan contact their legislators and urge them to pass SB 174, a campus safety bill that allows adults -- ages 21 and older -- to carry firearms on campus, if they choose.
Often, opponents to campus-carry legislation cite fears of "Wild West" scenarios as the reason behind their opposition. This is what billionaire Michael Bloomberg's out-of-state front group, Moms Demand Action, would have you believe – that mixing young adults with firearms will end in lives lost. They've come into Alaska and tried to mislead the public about SB 174, but there are no facts to back up their allegation.
The truth is, we don't have to guess what might happen if campus carry passes -- we already know. The hard data shows, without doubt, that public safety is not compromised when such legislation is passed.
Eight states have campus-carry laws, and in each of those states campuses have remained extremely safe places. When Utah, for example, allowed students to carry concealed firearms in 2008, the campus experienced a drop in the rates of violent crime, forcible rapes and aggravated assaults. The Utah example is not unique.
Every time campus-carry legislation is introduced, the opposition ratchets up the rhetoric to a fever pitch. National news outlets pick up the story, editorials are written, and talking heads debate on camera. Then, after the law goes into effect, all goes quiet. None of the doom-and-gloom predictions are realized, and the news outlets that bother to follow up report the same thing: Nothing bad happened.
While public safety is sure to remain unaffected, individual safety -- or the ability to take responsibility for your personal safety -- increases significantly.
There is no reason why a person should be forced to give up the right of self-protection just because they step over an arbitrary line. These adults are old enough to vote, to serve in the military, and to hold elected office. There is no reason why they should be prevented from exercising their Second Amendment rights while on campus.
Declaring a campus "gun-free" does not keep guns off campus. Thieves, rapists, and murderers will never respect a "gun-free" zone. We've seen it time and time again. Gun-free zones only ensure the law-abiding public will be disarmed.
Amy Hunter is the Alaska spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action.
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