By Steffanie Atkins
Capital News Service
RICHMOND – Eight out of 10 college students in Virginia are against allowing guns on campus, according to a statewide survey conducted by the advocacy group Virginia 21.
The organization, which represents young adults in Virginia, has been surveying college and university students about hot-button issues that may crop up during this year’s legislative session.
One such issue: whether guns should be permitted on campus. Some Second Amendment advocates say armed students could protect themselves against school shootings like the massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007.
Nearly 8,000 students took the Virginia 21 survey, and 83 percent of them said they do not want guns on school property, especially in dormitories. Seven percent of the respondents were unsure about the issue; the others supported the idea of letting guns on campus.
Tom Kramer, executive director for Virginia 21, said students’ main concern is dorm rooms.
“We don’t want guns in our dorm rooms. That’s one of the things we are most worried about. Could you imagine your roommate having a gun and you not knowing about it?” Kramer said.
“Freshmen don’t even get to pick who they room with. Do they have a right to know that? That is what really bothers us about a gun bill.”
At this point, no bills have been proposed in the 2013 General Assembly to allow guns on school property. However, such a proposal was filed last year.
Kramer wants to make sure the measure doesn’t come up again. “If there is one, we are going to basically call all of our chapters up to kill the bill,” he said.
According to other preliminary results of the Virginia 21 survey:
- 60 percent of students say they are unaware what their student loan payments will be upon graduation.
- 40 percent of students did not know about career center services on their college campus.
Virginia 21 will announce the complete results of its survey, including responses to topics involving tuition and textbooks, at the group’s Lobby Day on Jan. 29.
Students and other young voters from across the state will attend the event to urge legislators to hold down tuition while maintaining the quality of education. The group expects 80-100 supporters.