On her way home from a night class, Amanda Collins was raped at gunpoint on the ground floor of a campus parking garage at the University of Nevada-Reno, less than 50 feet away from the university police office.
Collins had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, but UNR, like most universities, does not allow guns on campus.
“The current law effectively legislated me into being a victim by stripping me of the equalizer I choose to use to defend my body and my life,” said Collins, now a gun rights activist and speaker, on her website.
Now, legislators in 10 states are sponsoring bills that would allow concealed guns on college campuses.
“If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them. The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these predators get a bullet in their head,” Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, who is sponsoring a bill in Nevada based on Collins’ case, told the New York Times .
But gun control activists say the bills are more pro-gun than anti-rape.
“This is a tactic by the gun lobby to increase their sales and continue to push weapons into different places,” said Andy Pelosi, president of Gun Free Kids and the Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus.
Republican control of state legislatures has emboldened the gun lobby to try and pass bills that allow guns on college campuses, he explained.
Nationwide, 10 states have laws to remove or loosen restrictions on concealed weapons on campus, while 17 states forbid firearms on campuses.
Still, most women oppose allowing guns on campus, according to the New York Times article, and gun control activists worry that introducing weapons onto campuses known for heavy drinking and partying would be dangerous for everyone in the community.
“Just saying, letting women carry guns on campus to deter rape, also means letting rapists carry guns,” tweeted Clay Risen, editor of the New York Times Op-Ed page.
But some lawmakers see it as a way to protect the one in four college women who survive sexual assault .
“If you’ve got a person that’s raped because you wouldn’t let them carry a firearm to defend themselves, I think you’re responsible”, said Dennis Baxley, representative of Florida, before a House subcommittee last month.