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Stats: Why Concealed Handguns Won't Make Colleges Safer

Texas legislators are currently working on a bill to allow concealed handguns on college campuses. But the probability of getting shot by a crazed shooter on campus is less than minuscule.

I conducted a search of college campus shootings over the last ten years (2000-2010) in the U.S. to determine the probability of being shot. There have been four recorded incidents of shootings on college campuses during this time.

In 2007, the shootings at Virginia Tech by a student resulted in 33 deaths and 15 wounded students. Again in 2007, shootings at Delaware State University resulted in 2 wounded students, but no deaths.

In 2008, a nursing student at Louisiana Tech shot two students and herself resulting in 3 deaths. In 2008, shootings at Northern Illinois University resulted in 6 deaths and 17 wounded.

Now over the same ten years, according the Digest of Education Statistics, the average fall enrollment in U.S. colleges and universities has been about 17 million a year (we have data only up to 2008, so this is an estimate). So for this ten-year period approximately 170 million students total were enrolled in college in the U.S. The total number of lethal shootings on college campuses during that time was 42.

That means that the probability of being a victim of a lethal shooting on campus anywhere in the U.S. was .000000247, an infinitesimal risk to say the least. There were, by the way, no lethal shootings on campuses in Texas during this time, so the probability here was zero. 

To put the shooting risk in context, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries. So comparatively speaking, a total of 42 students died from shootings over the last ten years while more than 18,000 college students died from alcohol-related injuries. In other words, college students are 400 times more likely to die from alcohol-related injuries than from a campus shooting."


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