Most of the 4,400 colleges and universities in America prohibit firearms on campus. A group called Students for Concealed Carry and others have been fighting this policy for years with only moderate success–but recent revelations about the rate of sexual assault on campus have given gun advocates a new argument: armed young women are less likely to be victims of sexual assaults, they claim.
Even mass shootings on campuses haven’t much swayed opponents of the measure, but the current rhetoric using sexual assault as a trigger is designed to change the equation. And the legal matter of who’s responsible for an assault that takes place when a student is “deprived” of her right to carry a gun may be what ultimately changes the current gun-free campus consensus. “If you’ve got a person that’s raped because you wouldn’t let them carry a firearm to defend themselves, I think you’re responsible,” State Representative Dennis K. Baxley of Florida says, as reported by the New York Times. Liability issues may frighten schools into relaxing their current weapons bans. Whether that will decrease–or increase–sexual assault on campus remains to be seen.