Guns: A Deterrent to Campus Rape?

Periodically it is reported that rapes of women on college campuses is common. This generates fear in women who are students and faculty, as well as their loved ones. According to an article published in The New York Times, “A Bid for Guns on Campuses to Deter Rape,” gun rights advocates hope to use this fear to push for the expansion of “conceal & carry” laws:

…this year, lawmakers in 10 states who are pushing bills that would permit the carrying of firearms on campus are hoping that the national spotlight on sexual assault will help them win passage of their measure. —The New York Times

The Rationale
There are two main assumptions about rape and safety that gun advocates use. Women are safer when they can protect themselves with a gun, and rapes occur outdoors or in parking garages; perpetrated by strangers. Both are untrue.

Will a Gun Solve the Problem?
Most rapes are committed by people the victims know. This is true especially on college campuses. For instance, a couple strikes up a conversation, they become amorous and at some point non-consensual sex takes place for any of these typical reasons

  • the man was mistaken about the woman’s interest in the first place
  • the woman has changed her mind
  • the woman has a limit for how far she will go
  • the woman has passed out, or is confused because of binge drinking

In any of these cases the man proceeds without consent. This is rape. How will a gun help in this situation?

  • while already in a struggle would a woman be able to get away from an embrace to get her gun?
  • if the gun were on her person, couldn’t it be turned on her once she pulls it out in such close proximity?
  • if either is under the influence of alcohol, couldn’t a deadly mistake be made?

Most rapes occur indoors and are committed by men who have befriended their victims.

Some surveys have found that most college presidents and faculty members oppose allowing firearms on campus. Among students, 67 percent of men and 86 percent of women dislike the concept. —The New York Times

What do you think?



About Bev Forsman

I am fascinated by what the world reveals, and I see life circumstances as windows of wisdom. I have held and continue to nurture a life-long interest in the human condition. In addition to introspection, curiosity, and wonder, I list the following credentials: parent, grandparent, life-partner, daughter, sister, aunt, wedding officiant, and Dharma Transmission.

2 thoughts on “Guns: A Deterrent to Campus Rape?

  1. In the context you laid out, I agree with your arguments – an incapacitated victim can’t do much with a gun, and the situation could turn badly rather quickly. However, with stranger rapes/assaults, which do occur on campuses and the areas surrounding them, carrying a gun or other types of personal protection could serve a female student well. This is a much smaller percentage of assaults, but they definitely do happen.

  2. There is so much that can go wrong with carrying guns on a campus especially when you add alcohol and drugs into the mix. Why not push for an alternative like pepper spray? I carried it when I lived on campus. It’s small enough to carry on person and super easy to access.

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