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Do University Students have a Right to Carry Concealed Weapons on Campus?

New legislation permitting properly licensed students to carry concealed firearms on campus at the University of Texas has re-ignited the debate regarding gun control and the purpose of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Does the second amendment protect the rights of students to carry concealed weapons on campus, or does this create a safety risk that endangers the liberty of other students? This eLesson will help students to analyze the arguments surrounding the carrying of concealed firearms on the campuses of public universities. Students will examine both sides of the debate as well as the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution to determine whether students of public universities should be permitted to carry concealed firearms or not.

Resources Teaching the Bill of Rights: The Second Amendment Discussing Controversial Topics: The Second Amendment

Background: UT students brace for new campus carry law

Pro: OPINION: Dispelling the misconceptions about campus carry

Con: OPINION: An Opposing View on Campus Carry Activity 1. Prior to teaching this lesson, it may be helpful to review two previous Bill of Rights Institute resources regarding the Second Amendment (above):

  • Teaching the Bill of Rights: The Second Amendment
  • Discussing Controversial Topics: The Second Amendment

2. In class or as homework the night before, have your students read the articles relating specifically to the campus carry law in Texas. Have your students consider the following questions during their reading and write down their responses:

  • What is the author’s main argument in this piece?
  • What does the author provide as a solution to the tension between supporters of campus carry and those who do not desire to have concealed weapons allowed on college campuses?
  • Based upon their argument, how could the author’s view of the Second Amendment be summarized?

3. After reviewing the articles, organize your students into two groups to debate whether or not students should be able to carry concealed weapons on public university campuses. Remind your students of the following rules for civil debate:

  • Speak courteously: No raised voices or insults of any kind.
  • Listen courteously: No interruptions.
  • Argue authoritatively: Use primary sources to support reasoning.

4. Have students form groups based on whether or not they believe students should have the right to carry firearms on campus.. Students should work together to identify the key points they believe support their position. They should identify at least 3.

  • If groups appear to be largely unequal, it may be helpful to flip the groups and have the students argue in favor of a position which they personally disagree with.

5. It’s time to debate! Have the two groups present their arguments to the class.

  • Each group should nominate a spokesperson to deliver a two-minute speech in favor of their position.
  • At the end of each side’s speech, the other side should appoint an individual (different from the main spokesperson) to “cross-examine” the other side. During this period, the cross-examiner may only ask questions. These are designed to clarify the first speaker’s arguments and ask questions that were unanswered or not considered earlier in the discussion.
  • The next side should give their two-minute speech followed by cross-examination.
  • Each group will then have a third speaker deliver a one-minute response addressing concerns raised during the cross examination..
  • Have your students may then cast a secret ballot in order to determine which side’s argument was most compelling to the class. Encourage students not to simply vote for the side they participated in, but to truly consider which side had the more compelling argument.

6. After the votes are tallied, have the students consider the following questions:

  • What are the rights that are protected by the Second Amendment?
  • Should the opinions of students be considered when determining whether or not concealed weapons are allowed on campus?
  • What would be your solution to balancing the concerns of both sides regarding the ability of students to carry concealed weapons on campus?