Drs. McMahon-Howard, Scherer, and McCafferty Published an Article about the Impact of Laws that Allow Guns on Campus

KENNESAW, Ga. (Jul 9, 2021) — Dr. Jennifer McMahon-Howard, Dr. Heidi Scherer, and Dr. James McCafferty recently published an article, "Examining the Effects of Passing a Campus Carry Law: Comparing Campus Safety Before and After Georgia's New Campus Carry Law," in the Journal of School Violence (5-year impact factor: 3.18).  Building upon their previous research on the factors that predict support for campus carry laws, the research team received funding from the American Sociological Association to examine the impact of laws that allow individuals to carry concealed handguns on public college and university campuses.  Using data from a longitudinal sample (N=867) of faculty/administrators, staff, and students at a large public university in Georgia, the researchers were able to compare measures of campus safety before and after the campus carry law was passed. While some believe that allowing individuals to carry concealed guns on campus would protect campus members from being victims of violent crime, the researchers did not find any change in violent victimization on campus.  Instead, the researchers found that there was an increase in fearful conflicts on campus after the campus carry law was passed.  Also, the researchers found increases in fear of crime on campus, perceptions of campus as unsafe, and lack of confidence in campus police.  

Using subsample analyses, the results indicated that all groups on campus - faculty/administrators, staff, and students - experienced statistically significant increases in feeling unsafe on campus and feeling less confident in campus police, but faculty/administrators experienced the largest increases.  Also, only faculty/administrators experienced a statistically significant increase in fear of crime and experiencing fearful conflicts on campus.  Thus, while allowing guns on campus may decrease perceptions of campus safety among all groups on campus, it may have a greater impact on faculty/administrators compared to staff and students.  The researchers suggest that the greater impact on faculty/administrators may be related to their roles on campus as they often make or inform others about decisions that may lead to stress and interpersonal conflict (ex. failure of a course, failure of a thesis/dissertation defense, dismissal/termination from the university, denial of promotion and/or tenure, etc.).  Being confronted about these decisions may be stressful, in general, but these confrontations may be more fearful when individuals are allowed to carry concealed guns on campus.  As a result, faculty/administrators may experience more fearful conflicts and have an increase in fear of crime on campus when concealed guns are allowed on campus.