Guns on campus: A majority of students support restrictions

More than eight in 10 current and prospective students surveyed said a college or university's firearms policies are "at least somewhat important" in their decision to attend.

Guns on campus—or the lack thereof—are playing a larger role in students’ college choices, a new survey finds.

More than eight in 10 current and prospective students surveyed by Gallup late last year said a college or university’s firearms policies are “at least somewhat important” in their decision to attend. A little more than a third said such regulations were “extremely important.”

But does favoring the existence of gun policies necessarily mean all these students support gun control? Pretty much. In this case, 84% of the students who said gun policies were important wanted to attend colleges that limit or ban firearms on campus, Gallup found.

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The sentiment was shared by 91% of students who identified as Democrats and 71% who declared themselves Republicans. Views on gun restrictions are also linked to how fearful students are about active shooters.

Among all enrolled two- and four-year students who attend at least half their courses of campus, one in three told pollsters that they worry “a great deal” or “a fair amount” about gun violence on campus. That number skyrockets to over 80% for students who support restrictions of guns on campus.

What does all this mean for administrators? “As gun rights advocates continue to win legal victories regarding firearms and where individuals may carry them, colleges and universities may soon be required to comply with state or federal rulings that update campus gun regulations,” said the poll’s authors, who also noted:

  • The Georgia Supreme Court in 2023 upheld the University of Georgia Board of Regents’ policy allowing guns on campus.
  • The Montana Supreme Court in 2022 vacated a state law allowing concealed carry on Montana University System campuses.
  • A challenge to the University of Michigan’s campus firearms ban has been appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.

“While many public universities are currently subjected to state laws that govern campus gun policies, those that allow firearms on campus may risk losing potential applicants to other universities that better align with students’ gun policy preferences,” the poll’s authors concluded.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is the managing editor of University Business and a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for University Business, he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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