At least 10 state legislatures are considering NRA-backed legislation to allow students to carry concealed guns on campus, and advocates for guns on campus have increasingly argued that arming students will help address the epidemic of campus sexual assault. Critics have pointed out that, among many other problems with this argument, campus sexual assaults often involve alcohol.
During the February 24 edition of the NRA News radio program Cam & Company, Edwards asserted that opponents of guns on campus believe that in “almost every sexual assault, there is alcohol involved,” so a “gun wouldn’t help.” Because of this, Edwards said, opponents of guns on campus are “OK with some sexual assaults occurring when they could be prevented.”
Edwards went on to describe the position of those who say that guns on campus are not a solution to sexual assault: “So what they’re saying is, they are OK with real sexual assaults happening — whether they acknowledge that they are saying this or not, ultimately their position is that they are OK with real sexual assaults happening because they are afraid of accidents that might take place if campus carry were allowed.”
In fact, Edwards is mischaracterizing recent arguments against guns as a solution to campus sexual assault, which have pointed out that guns will not actually make women on campus safer.
As Amanda Marcotte wrote at Slate, “[W]ould it actually improve campus safety? No. Most rapes, especially among college students, are acquaintance rapes and defy the burglar-coming-in-the-window fantasy of self defense that gun advocates like to invoke.”
Similarly, Jia Tolentino wrote at Jezebel: “[G]uns make domestic violence more deadly for women. Rape on college campuses (as well as in general) happens in situations that mirror very closely the dynamic of domestic violence — the introduction of coercion and sexual assault under the cover of relationships and interactions that seem outwardly acceptable.”
According to academic research, students who carried guns while at college were more likely to report “being victims and perpetrators of physical and sexual violence at college” compared to students who did not.
A 2002 study in the Journal of American College Health by researchers affiliated with the Harvard School of Public Health found that students who keep guns at college are more likely to engage in risky or illegal behavior. Specifically, they wrote, “Compared with students who did not have a firearm at college, those who had a firearm were more likely to be male (85% vs 43%); to be White (91% vs 72%); to live off campus (86% vs 57%); to live with a significant other (16% vs 8%); to drive a motor vehicle after binge drinking (27% vs 9%); to have unprotected sex when under the influence of alcohol (17% vs 10%); to vandalize property (21% vs 10%); and to get into trouble with the police (10% vs 6%).” The authors also addressed the interplay between binge drinking and violent behavior, concluding, “Given that alcohol is widely thought to contribute to violent behavior generally and to a majority of college student suicides, rapes, and other violent crimes, we find it quite troubling that almost two thirds of students with guns at college report binge drinking.”
During the September 5, 2014, edition of Cam & Company, Edwards reacted to the claim of a guest that “so many” campus sexual assault allegations are instances of “two people being drunk at a party hooking up and then somebody, usually the girl, regretting it the next morning,” by saying, “Yup. Absolutely.”
A full transcript of Edwards’ remarks on the February 24 edition of NRA News’& Cam & Company:
EDWARDS: You know, again, we have states around the nation where campus carry takes place. None of these nightmare scenarios, none of them exist in any of these campuses –on any of these campuses where campus carry exists. And yet they ignore reality in favor of their fevered fantasies. They insist, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, every sexual assault — almost every sexual assault, there is alcohol involved. A gun wouldn’t help. So let’s not even talk about it.”
Well, first of all, there is that “almost” qualifier, right? So what you’re saying is, “We’re OK with some sexual assaults occurring when they could be prevented. Because we feel like” — I guess their argument would be, we feel like those sexual assaults that perhaps could be prevented with the presence of a firearm in the hands of a concealed-carry holder, that’s the price that we pay for fewer drunken accidents involving firearms, which, again, aren’t taking place on the campuses that have campus carry.
So what they’re saying is, they are OK with real sexual assaults happening — whether they acknowledge that they are saying this or not, ultimately their position is that they are OK with real sexual assaults happening because they are afraid of accidents that might take place if campus carry were allowed. And you can show them the evidence that those accidents, that those fears are off base, that they don’t have to be worried about that, and they will insist that oh, yes, they do.
That’s what I don’t understand here. Because I’ve met and talked with women who have been sexually assaulted on college campuses, and they weren’t drunk. Their assailants weren’t drunk. Their firearm would have helped them. And you know, they’ve been told now for years by politicians, by anti-gun advocates, by people like Anne Skomorowsky that they don’t exist, that their stories don’t matter, that their experiences don’t matter. And the voices that are telling these women that are so unbelievably wrong. Which is why we will continue –one of the many reasons why we will continue to talk about this story, and this subject, and this campaign for campus carry.