Date of Award

12-1-2015

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Burruss, George

Abstract

The carrying of concealed weapons for protection, specifically handguns, is a widely debated topic. This is especially true on college campuses following highly publicized mass shooting events. Researching students’ projected carrying behavior if legal on campus is important because it sheds light on the extent to which a concealed carry policy would be utilized in the university context, which has implications for public safety as well as student perceptions of safety. The scholarly literature indicates that White, Southern males who own guns are most likely to favor concealed carry policies. Donald Black’s theory of self-help (1983) and the collective security hypothesis (1987) frame this investigation by exploring whether students who feel that local law enforcement is ill equipped to protect them are more likely to say that they would utilize a concealed carry policy on campus as a measure of self-protection. Analyzing survey data from a Midwestern university In the Spring of 2009 with logistic regression, it is clear that the majority of students sampled are not in favor of a policy for carrying concealed firearms onto campus. As expected males and gun owners are significantly more likely to say they would carry concealed if legal. The interaction between gender and trust in law enforcement is also significant, indicating that males are more likely to say they would carry on campus relative to females as their level of confidence in law enforcement decreases. Overall, this research does not support Donald Black’s theory of self-help and the collective security hypothesis. In order to better test the theory of self-help and the collective security hypothesis, additional measures of the key variables are warranted in future research. In addition conducting a survey on projected carrying behavior with a nationally representative sample would aid understanding as to how the broader population of students in The United States would feel and behave if concealed carry were legal on their campus. Further investigation exploring why gender and law enforcement interact in predicting projected carry behavior is warranted.

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