Episcopal Bishops Denounce Campus Carry Bill

ATLANTA and SAVANNAH (Feb. 23, 2016) – Georgia’s Episcopal bishops have issued a joint statement denouncing legislation allowing guns on Georgia public college and university campuses.

Bishops Robert C. Wright of Atlanta and Scott A. Benhase of Savannah, said House Bill 859, approved Monday by state representatives, conflicts with Christian values and would be bad public policy.

“This bill is not consistent with either God’s vision for a community built on respect for human life and love of neighbor or with responsible gun ownership,” Wright and Benhase said in a statement to some 400 Episcopal clergy throughout Georgia. “Having more guns in more places on our state’s campuses will not make them safer as proponents of the bill suggest. Instead, reputable studies have shown that this will increase the likelihood of gun owners accidentally shooting and wounding – sometimes killing – others.”

The bishop’s said HB 859 would also add significant additional costs for security and screening to a system that already has been forced to make cuts at the expense of education.

“There are better ways to increase safety for our state’s students, professors and staff at our state’s schools. We ask that the state’s educational leaders be allowed to identify and put in place measures that safeguard all on our campuses,” the statement said.

The bishops asked their clergy to encourage the some 75,000 members of Georgia’s 180 Episcopal Churches to join them in calling upon state senators to reject HB 859.

“Please call or email Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and your state senator today expressing your opposition to HB 859 and Campus Carry,” the bishops said. “Tell your elected representatives in the Senate that passing HB 859 is a step away from common sense law and a step toward a more violent society.”

The bishops also opposed legislation in 2014 to expand the number of places where guns may be carried. After the bill was changed in the Senate to require churches to “opt in” to allow guns in churches the bishops banned guns from all Episcopal churches, schools and other ministries.

More about the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia at www.gaepiscopal.org
More about the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta at www.episcopalatlanta.org



Estimated Costs of Campus Carry Legislation:

  • Texas – Total estimated cost is $47 million
  • Idaho – Total estimated $3.7 million
  • Florida – The Association of Florida Colleges estimates a total of $74 million to cover necessary increases in campus law enforcement staffing, training, salaries and benefits, insurance and capital expenses. Funding has been requested but not granted to date.
  • The University System of Florida has asked the Florida Legislature for $20 million in additional funding to cover necessary increases in campus law enforcement, staffing, training, salaries and benefits, insurance and capital expenses ($14 million) and increased campus based mental health services ($4 million).
  • Indiana – Nearly $40 million was paid out in damages in the last five years by the state for injury due to current gun laws on public property.
  • Kansas – $5-$9 million extra in security measures.
  • Arkansas – No immediate fiscal impact due to all universities opting out of the campus carry law.
  • Wisconsin – Anticipates expenses for signage, hiring special administration, and additional training for campus police and security.
  • Wyoming – State’s insurance carrier threatened to drop coverage of school districts should the bill pass.

Correlation with Reduction in Crime:
No credible study has demonstrated that permissive gun laws, including concealed carry rates, reduce crime. Numerous studies have in fact found that concealed carry rates are correlated with an increase in crime rates; other studies suggest that concealed carry has no effect on crime rates.
Correlation with Increase in Crime:

  • “‘The totality of the evidence based on educated judgments about the best statistical models suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates’ of aggravated assault, rape, robbery and murder.” (Aneja, Donohue and Zhang, 2014)
  • “A ‘shall issue’ law that eliminates most restrictions on carrying a concealed weapon may be associated with increased firearm homicide rates.” (Rosengart et. al., 2005)
  • “Changes in gun ownership are significantly positively related to changes in the homicide rate.” (Duggan, 2002)
  • “[T]he best science indicates that more guns will lead to more deaths.” (Webster and Ludwig, 2001)
  • “Firearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation.” (Florida, 2011)
    Deterrent Effect on Crime:
  • “Because beliefs over the distribution of firearm carriers are impervious to permitting policies and do not respond positively to the true distribution of carriers, the data suggest easing concealed carry cannot deter crime.” (Fortunato, 2015)
  • “No support to the hypothesis that shall-issue laws have beneficial effects in reducing murder rates.” (Grambsch, 2012)
  • “No statistically significant association exists between changes in concealed weapon laws and state homicide rates.” (Hepburn, Miller, Azrael and Hemenway, 2004)
  • “No evidence that [right-to-carry] laws reduce or increase rates of violent crime.” (Kovandzic, Marvell and Vieraitis, 2005)
  • “[T]he rate at which CHLs [concealed handgun licenses] are issued and crime rates are independent of one another—crime does not drive CHLs; CHLs do not drive crime.” (Phillips et al, 2015)

Experience with Campus Carry on college campuses:

  • “[O]n college campuses where concealed carry is permitted, the crime rates actually increased while the student population decreased.” (Gavran 2015)
  • “[T]he rate of forcible rape on Utah and Colorado campuses [where campus carry is permitted] is rising at an alarming rate, much higher than the rate of the national average and steady with the national average on college campuses.” (Gavran 2015)

Self Defense Effectiveness:

  • Most people struggle to use firearms effectively in self-defense.
  • Trained professionals, such as soldiers and law enforcement officers, have low firearm accuracy rates in live-fire situations.
  • Factors such as stress, over-confidence, lighting, and racial bias interfere with the judgment and skills of those with years of training in conflict situations.
  • The average well-meaning civilian, with little or no training, is even more likely to harm himself or others than to prevent a crime.
  • The highly-trained New York Police Department’s “average hit rate during gunfights was just 18 percent. When suspects did not return fire, police officers hit their targets 30 percent of the time.” (RAND Corporation, 2008)
  • “Despite what we see on TV, the presence of a firearm is a greater risk, especially in the hands of an untrained person” (David Chipman, former ATF agent, 2015)
  • “Most cops and civilian gun carriers are lousy handgun shots. The level of ineptitude of many people who carry guns on a daily basis is nothing short of appalling.” (Duane Thomas, Handgun Defense Expert, 2002)
  • “Citizens with little or no training are foolish to think that they will have the focus and presence of mind to respond calmly and appropriately when under duress.” (Vince, Wolfe, and Field, 2015, 43)
  • Racial bias affects the decision whether to shoot a person. (Mekawi 2014)
  • “[O]fficers were more likely to mistakenly shoot unarmed Black compared with unarmed White suspects.” (Plant and Peruche, 2005)
  • Of 62 mass shootings in the last 30 years, “not one was stopped by an armed civilian.” (Follman 2012)

Rates of Successful Self-defense Gun Use versus Rates of Criminal Uses, Unjustifiable Uses, Accidents, and Suicides:

  • “Guns are used to threaten and intimidate far more often than they are used in self defense. Most self reported self defense gun uses may well be illegal and against the interests of society.” (Hemenway, Azrael, Miller 2000)
  • “[T]he statistical reality is that for every justifiable homicide in the United States—for every lethal shooting in defense of life or property—guns are used to commit 34 murders and 78 suicides, and are the cause of two accidental deaths.” (Holland 2015, citing Washington Post analysis of FBI data 2015)
  • “In 2012 for every justifiable homicide in the United States involving a gun, guns were used in 32 criminal homicides.” (Violence Policy Center, 2015)
  • “Individuals in possession of a gun were 4.46 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not in possession. Among gun assaults where the victim had at least some chance to resist, this adjusted odds ratio increased to 5.45.” (Branas et al, 2009).
  • “For every age group, where there are more guns there are more accidental deaths.” (Miller, Azrael, and Hemenway 2001)
  • “The majority of people killed in firearm accidents are under age 24, and most of these young people are being shot by someone else, usually someone their own age.” (Hemenway, Barber, and Miller 2010)
  • Access to a firearm means a person is almost twice as likely to become a homicide victim and three times more likely to commit suicide. (Anglemeyer, Horvath, and Rutherford, 2014 – meta-analysis of data from 16 peer-reviewed studies)
  • Guns are far more likely to be used against women than used by women in self-defense
  • Women are most likely to be victimized by people that they know, often intimate partners. A gun greatly increases the chances violence against women will be fatal.
  • Guns are ill-suited for self-defense in sexual assault situations, which usually occur between people who know each other and in places where women feel safe, such as homes, dorm rooms, and social events.
  • “[W]here there are more guns, more women die” (Dr. Deborah Azrael, 2015)
  • “[W]hile men are more likely to be victimized by strangers, women are more likely to be victimized not just by intimate partners but also by friends or acquaintances.” (Drakulich, Sociological Forum, 2015, 104)
  • Men’s rates of gun ownership are three times that of women’s. (Gallup 2013)
  • In a significant number of gun-owning households, only the male member of the household knows about the existence of the gun. (Ludwig et al. 1998)
  • Despite having extensive firearms training and access to weapons, “women in the military are raped and sexually assaulted at significantly higher rates than in civilian society.” (Hynes, 2012

Belief that “gun free zones” Attract Violence:

  • The majority of firearm violence occurs in private, not public, and is triggered by factors such as arguments and personal grudges.
  • There is no evidence to support the claim that mass shooters choose their settings based on gun regulations.
  • “[R]ampage killings are not the typical face of gun violence in America. Each day, some 30 people are victims of gun homicides, slain by rival gang members, drug dealers, trigger-happy robbers, drunken men after bar fights, frenzied family members or abusive partners. An additional 60 people a day kill themselves with guns.” (New York Times, 2015)
  • “Mass shootings represent a small share of total U.S. firearm homicides. Less than one percent of gun murder victims recorded by the FBI in 2012 were killed in incidents with four or more victims.” (Everytown for Gun Safety, 2015)
  • “Ninety-one of the 133 [mass shooting] incidents (68%) took place wholly in private residences. Of the 37 incidents in public spaces, at least 21 took place wholly or in part where concealed guns could be lawfully carried. All told, no more than 17 of the shootings (13%) took place entirely in public spaces that were so-called “gun-free zones.” (Everytown for Gun Safety, 2015)
  • “Among the 62 mass shootings over the last 30 years … not a single case includes evidence that the killer chose to target a place because it banned guns. To the contrary, in many of the cases there was clearly another motive for the choice of location.” (Follman, 2013)
  • The majority of colleges and universities in the United States prohibit firearms on their campuses, yet campuses remain some of the safest places in the country. “[A]verage annual rates were lower for students than for nonstudents for each type of violent crime measured (robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault).” (U.S. Department of Justice, 2005)
  • “[T]he overall rate for criminal homicide at postsecondary education institutions was 0 .07 per 100,000 of enrollment in 1999. By comparison, in 1999 the criminal homicide rate in the United States was 5.7 per 100,000 persons overall and 14.1 per 100,000 for persons ages 17 to 29, making students on the campuses of postsecondary institutions significantly safer than the nation as a whole.” (U.S. Department of Education, 2001)
  • “The average annual violent victimization rate for female college students was lower than the rate for female nonstudents (43 and 71 per 1,000 persons, respectively) . Female college students were less likely than female nonstudents to be victims of aggravated assault, robbery, simple assault, and overall serious violence. Female college students were somewhat less likely than nonstudents to be the victim of a rape/sexual assault.” (U.S. Department of Justice, 2005)
  • 93% of violent victimizations of college students occur off campus. (U.S. Department of Justice, 2005)
  • The rate of rape and sexual assault is 1.2 times higher for nonstudents (7.6 per 1,000) than for students (6.1 per 1,000). (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2014)
  • Guns increase aggression and unsafe behavior, particularly in college students. The most common known circumstance for gun homicide is “arguments (including romantic triangles)” not self-defense or crime prevention. (FBI Uniform Crime Reports 2010)
  • “Studies have also shown that carrying a gun tends to make people more likely to deliver electric shocks, increase paranoia about people and objects, and increase testosterone.” (Yuhas, 2015)
  • Motorists with a gun in the car are more likely to make obscene gestures at other motorists (23% vs. 16%), aggressively follow another vehicle too closely (14% vs. 8%), or both (6.3% vs. 2.8%). (Hemenway, Vriniotis, Miller, 2006).
  • “Compared with students who did not have a firearm at college, those who had a firearm were more likely …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%).” (Miller, Hemenway, and Wechsler, 2002)
  • Students who carried weapons were more likely to report “being victims and perpetrators of physical and sexual violence at college.” (Meilman, Leichliter , and Presley CA 1998)
  • College students are using the social media application Yeti to post photos of their weapons, many accompanied by threatening and aggressive messages and demonstrating unsafe use and storage. (Business Insider, 2015)

* Information compiled by Outcry Georgia, Interfaith Voices Against Gun Violence. More about Outcry at www.outcrygeorgia.org.


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