Laws restricting gun ownership will not prevent gun violence or end school shootings. For our safety, Georgetown University should arm campus police and the D.C. Council should allow students to carry firearms on campuses.

Joining nearly 3,000 schools nationwide, Georgetown students participated in a walkout Wednesday to demand legislative action against gun violence. The protest was organized in partnership with Empower, the youth wing of the Women’s March Network.

Yet, begging for gun control will not make our campus safer; allowing students and Georgetown University Police Department officers to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms will.

GUPD’s 2017 security report explains the current means available to officers in the case of an attack. “All GUPD officers are unarmed. […] Officers carry safety batons and pepper spray and are provided with a protective vest.” If a person with a firearm steps onto campus, GUPD officers will be armed only with batons and pepper spray, both of which are only effective in close range.

GUPD Chief of Police Jay Gruber wrote in an email that “arming GUPD officers with firearms is a University executive leadership decision.” We expect GUPD to keep us safe, but the university has not given GUPD sufficient means to protect students in an active shooter situation.

Georgetown is a university: Many of our students are over 21 and can obtain concealed carry licenses in D.C.. As such, we should consider arming not only GUPD officers, but also students and staff.

Our campus is not small; GUPD may not be able to stop a shooter immediately, even if armed. Mere minutes can make the difference between life and death for dozens of people. As such, we should allow students and staff to act as their own first lines of defense.

We need not fear guns on campus. More than 300 U.S. college and university campuses have allowed licensed concealed carry, according to advocacy group Students for Concealed Carry. According to the group, as of spring 2018, no deaths, assaults or suicide attempts have been reported on any of these campuses. The organization found only seven accidental or negligent discharges at colleges allowing campus carry, three of which caused no injuries and none of which caused severe injuries.

Unfortunately, concealed carry on any public or private university campus in the District, is illegal. Georgetown is a gun-free zone, legally defined as an “area where use or possession of firearms is considered as a crime.”

More than 96 percent of public mass shootings from 1998 to 2015 occurred in gun-free zones, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center. This statistic suggests either mass shooters select gun-free zones intentionally or shooters are able to kill more people in a gun-free zone because no armed person can stop them. Allowing the Georgetown community to be armed would give students and staff the chance to stop a would-be mass shooter.

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, often says the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. His point is too simplistic; the argument against arming teachers and students merits consideration.

For example, gun control advocates frequently cite a 2014 FBI study that found off-duty law enforcement and armed civilians ended mass shootings using their personal firearms in fewer than 5 percent of mass shootings. Moreover, The Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham, a gun-control advocate, argues mass shooters expect to be killed or commit suicide. Thus arming teachers or students will not deter them.

Yet, Ingraham and critics of the “good guy with a gun” theory ignore a key driver of school shooters: a desire for infamy. According to criminologist Adam Lankford, the deadliest mass shooters expressed a strong desire for fame and an awareness that a higher body count will lead to more media coverage. Therefore, arming GUPD police officers, students and faculty could deter a deadly mass shooter. We would send a strong message to potential shooters: You cannot become infamous on our campus.

I agree with those who walked out this week: Students should not need to fear a shooter attacking our school. But the gun-free status quo does not make us safer — it leaves us vulnerable and defenseless.

Amelia Irvine is a junior in the College.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.


  1. Bravo Amelia says:

    Yes! Ten states have already recognized that arming students solves problems- in both the immediate, personal protection from danger sense, but also in the “herd immunity” sense. That is, legal concealed carry means every single student is potentially armed, and everyone benefits from criminals and rapists’ hesitation, regardless of whether or not you choose to carry.

    • Ancient Hoya says:

      Brave new world, where anyone can potentially kill you in an instant! That’ll keep us all in line.
      I feel safer already in this herd immunity environment.

      (The ten states haven’t recognized anything. They have theorized. We’ll see how it turns out.)

  2. Guns are bad says:

    This is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read

  3. Look around says:

    This is a uniquely American problem, and this breed of people somehow begging for more guns (??) is equally uniquely American.

    It’s kind of awkward to say it, but maybe try opening your mind a little bit, step outside this country’s borders, and look around the world? You’re guaranteed to feel embarrassed when you realize how ridiculous every single word in this article is.

    We all go to Georgetown – there is no excuse for this shameful narrow-mindedness.

    • Look Further says:

      Actually, there is evidence both for and against gun control/gun rights across the world, which does not make this debate “uniquely American.” Perhaps, it is yourself, not Ms. Irvine, who needs to open your mind and step outside this nation’s borders to counties with prolific gun cultures who do not have mass shootings, not just stricter gun control nations. This comment is nothing more than a quintessential display of sarcasm for a particular worldview that, in a lot of ways, fails to take into account diverse opinions.

  4. Arming GUPD with guns may make SOME STUDENT DEMOGRAPHICS of this campus safe, but not ALL students. Please think of others who may be harmed by arming the wrong person with a gun. We, as Americans have witnessed it happen far too many times, and as a young man of color, I could say the least that I would not feel safe on campus if GUPD were to be armed. How about focusing on making the campus more secure and private as opposed to having the gates open all the time or having street access 100% of the time. There are other solutions to arms, and many ways to prevent gun violence.

  5. I’m just going to leave this here and suggest that the author do some more research beforehand publishing tone-deaf opinion pieces, including taking a stats class to understand the difference between correlation and causation:

  6. Glenn Spyder says:

    I appreciate that Georgetown is open to a debate on this topic, welcoming all viewpoints. It deserves rational and fact-based discussion.

    There can be no doubt that on a given day when a hostile shooter is in a position to shoot students (and others), it would be beneficial if an armed “good guy” was in the vicinity and was ready, willing and able to intervene (the “Hero Scenario”). What are the odds of the Hero Scenario happening? Let’s just say 3,000 to 1, since it’s fairly unlikely that the incident will occur. (Odds are probably much lower.)

    There can also be no doubt that the presence of armed civilians in classrooms, the library, and on campus grounds, will change the campus environment for the worse. First, you will have the uneasiness of unknown armed persons among us. (Remember, I don’t know that you’re a “good guy.” I only know that you can kill me in a split second, and I’m helpless to stop it, unless I carry a weapon too. Not very collegial.) Second is the introduction of potential accidents. Third is the introduction of actual abuse or misuse of the weapon (parking disputes etc.). The last two are much more likely to happen than the Hero Scenario.

    I’m not advocating for an outcome. I’m simply saying that the entirety of the impact has to be considered and measured.

  7. Try Again Amelia says:

    Both my roommate and I would feel incredibly unsafe at Georgetown if the carrying of firearms were to be allowed at Georgetown. While giving students the ability to “protect themselves” seems like a good idea in theory, I have witnessed, first hand, the extensive use of drugs such as adderall and cocaine on campus and would feel EXTREMELY unsafe knowing these very same students would potentially have access to a deadly firearm. Not to mention, having a firearm does not preclude the ability to effectively protect oneself with it. Additionally, since shooters are typically looking to become infamous, couldn’t the challenge of attacking a gun-carry campus simply spur them on? On the topic of how shooters pick campuses, the statistic that 96% of public mass shootings occur in gun-free zones could also be a reflection (at least in part) of there simply being more gun-free public zones. If that were the case, it would just be statistically more probable that a shooting would occur in a gun-free zone than it being the case that shooters are targeting gun-free zones. On the topic of arming GUPD, the Georgetown Police Department already lacks the funding to properly train their officers to address sexual assaults on campus, so I rather doubt that they would be able to find the money to properly train GUPD to carry guns and deescalate potential shooters. In conjunction with that, as a young black female living in today’s world, I would feel even more unsafe knowing that GUPD had guns. Their officers have mistaken me for someone that looks nothing like me before, they’ll do it again. To quote American idol, “Its a no from me thanks.”

  8. Concerned Hoya says:

    I really hope this is a joke lol. This is possibly the least thought-out garbage article I’ve ever seen actually published by The Hoya. I would write out a long response discussing how little research the author of this piece did or how little they know about GUPD and the administration and the culture of this campus, but it’s probably not worth my time and wouldn’t do anything to change the opinion of anybody stupid or ignorant enough to believe this article.

  9. Sane Senior says:

    Yes, allow everyone to carry a firearm at an alcohol-saturated campus full of drugs, stress, and hormonal young men. What could go wrong!

  10. Reckless and Dangerous Idea says:

    to go with what people have said above, also consider how impossible it would be for students to safely store a gun in a dorm environment. Thefts happen all the time on campus. Consider also the huge number of students who have thoughts of suicide. Even ignoring the possibility of a mass shooter, having guns on campus would make it a lot easier for distressed students to rashly hurt themselves

  11. Ace Alvarado says:

    The author should devote more time to mastering compound sentences before she pollutes public discourse with this thoughtless trash. Rock bottom for the Hoya tbh.

  12. Sorry, have you ever actually operated a firearm? If you actually understood the training necessary to use a gun you would understand how incredibly ignorant most people are about guns, and it would be INCREDIBLY apparent to you that having an endless supply of guns on a college campus is a TERRIBLE idea. I am astounded that you think students should be able to have guns next to their homework binders to walk to math class. Seriously? You spend your time making cases for “saving lives” and defend a militarized campus where anybody can accidentally set off a bullet? Shame on you.

  13. Complete garbage. Went out of his way to cite a scientific source and countered it by saying, “but come on, my opinion is definitely way better than that science”

    Embarrassing that your name will be attached to this forever. May a future employer deny you opportunity because of this opinion. 👍

  14. Complete garbage. Went out of her way to cite a scientific source and countered it by saying, “but come on, my opinion is definitely way better than that science”

    Embarrassing that your name will be attached to this forever. May a future employer deny you opportunity because of this opinion. 👍

  15. SFS Senior says:

    If only Amelia Irvine believed that gay people should have as many rights as a gun.

  16. Stop and think says:

    Banks used to have armed guards. Now you almost never see one. Why? It turns out that armed defenders are not effective and cause criminals to be more violent. Gun accidents don’t make headlines on Fox News, but they do happen. Insurance companies will not cover schools that allow guns on campus because they know claims go way up at those that do.

  17. If GUPD officers could carry guns, I guarantee I would have been killed two years ago.

  18. Blue_Sheepdog says:

    Unarmed police are simply additional victims in a situation where someone with a gun is hell bent on killing people. I would have thought people intelligent enough to teach at university would understand that.

    • Glenn Spyder says:

      Armed police (and armed students) are an incident waiting to happen on the 99,999 out of 100,000 days that there is NOT an active shooter on campus. There are a lot of intelligent people at Georgetown, as evidenced by their willingness and ability to consider all consequences and weigh them rationally.

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