Just eight days after a gunman massacred nine people at a community college in Oregon, two more students were killed in separate shootings on college campuses in Texas and Florida.
In many parts of the country, the shootings prompted a call to arm students and faculty.
Only in America do we respond to shootings with the need for more guns. Arming college campuses will do little to reduce mass attacks, and will likely lead to more shooting deaths.
There are already 300 million civilian firearms in the United States. That's more than one for every adult. At what point do Americans say enough is enough?
It didn't happen last year after a student killed six and injured 13 near the University of California, Santa Barbara. It didn't happen in 2013 after a 23-year-old shot his father and brother before killing three others at Santa Monica College. It didn't happen in 2012 when a 43-year-old former student shot and killed seven people and injured three others at Oikos University in Oakland, Calif. And it obviously didn't happen after a senior killed 32 people at Virginia Tech University in 2007— the largest campus massacre ever.
It defies logic to think that allowing students, faculty, and administrators to carry guns will somehow make college campuses safer. Indeed, experts from the Harvard School of Public Health found that wherever there are more guns, there are more murders.
Many college campuses are already confronting thorny issues of how best to combat suicide, sexual assault, and binge drinking. Introducing more guns into that volatile mix will only exacerbate the problems.
Yet, in the past few years, campus-carry bills have been introduced in almost half the states. Thankfully, most of the measures have failed.
But starting in August, students and faculty members at universities in Texas will be allowed to carry handguns into classrooms, dormitories, and other campus buildings.
Supporters claim the so-called concealed-carry law will make campuses safer by allowing gun owners to defend themselves, and possibly save lives, should a mass shooting occur. Some have even made the preposterous claim that legalizing guns on college campuses will help women defend themselves from sexual assault.
The reality is that allowing more guns will lead to more fear and mayhem, while having a chilling effect on campus life. Will students be willing to engage in thoughtful debate if they know a fellow classmate has a gun in his backpack? Will professors meet with struggling students to discuss their grades if the person is armed?
If anything, allowing guns on college campuses will likely lead to more accidental shootings and suicides. Just imagine all the things that could go wrong with gun-carrying students at a fraternity party or concert.
There's a reason why the U.S. military bars most troops from carrying weapons on their bases outside of combat zones. In fact, one of the most prominent opponents of the campus-carry bill is a former commander of the U.S. Special Operations forces who directed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
Adm. William McRaven is now the chancellor at the University of Texas and a gun owner. Yet, he opposed allowing guns on college campuses in Texas.
"I feel the presence of concealed weapons will make a campus less safe," McRaven wrote in a letter to the Texas legislature.
In all, eight states allow the carrying of concealed weapons on public college campuses. Nineteen states ban concealed weapons on campus, and 23 others leave the decision to the individual colleges or state board of regents.
Oregon is one of the states that allows guns on college campuses, though not in classrooms. Perhaps someone with a gun could have intervened in the recent massacre. But the odds are very small that another person with a gun would have been in a position to stop it.
The best answer to the shootings is fewer guns, not more. Witness how strict gun laws in other developed countries have resulted in fewer deaths by firearms.
Short of that, the best way to reduce campus shootings is to increase efforts to identify and treat disturbed students, while preventing them from buying guns. A well-trained, well-equipped campus police force is also critical to campus safety.
Other sensible steps include universal background checks, tighter regulation of gun dealers, safe storage requirements, and prohibiting gun ownership for anyone convicted of domestic violence or assault.
There are many steps that can be taken to make college campuses safe. But allowing more guns on campus is not one of them.
John A. Fry is president of Drexel University in Philadelphia. firstname.lastname@example.org