Reducing firearm-related violence on college campuses-police chiefs' perceptions and practices

J Am Coll Health. 2009 Nov-Dec;58(3):247-54. doi: 10.1080/07448480903295367.


Context: Firearms are used in the majority of college aged suicides and homicides. With recent efforts by various gun lobbying groups to have firearms more accessible to college students on campuses, there is the potential for more firearm-related morbidity and mortality.

Objective: This study assessed university police chiefs' perceptions and practices concerning selected issues of firearm violence and its reduction on college campuses.

Participants: The Directory of the International Association for College Law Enforcement Administrators was used to identify a national random sample of campus police chiefs (n = 600). The respondents were predominantly males (89%), 40 to 59 years of age (71%), Caucasian (85%), and worked for 21or more years in law enforcement (75%).

Methods: In the fall of 2008, a 2-wave mailing procedure was used to ensure an adequate response rate to a valid and reliable questionnaire.

Results: A total of 417 (70%) questionnaires were returned. A firearm incident had occurred in the past year on 25% of campuses and on 35% of campuses within the past 5 years. The majority of campuses (57%) had a plan in place for longer than a year to deal with an "active shooter" on campus. Virtually all (97%) of the campuses had a policy in place that prohibited firearms on campus. The primary barrier (46%) to a highly visible campus plan for preventing firearms violence was the perception that firearms violence was not a problem on their campus.

Conclusions: A greater awareness of the importance of a highly visible campus firearm policy and its potential for reducing firearm trauma on college campuses is needed.

MeSH terms

  • Administrative Personnel / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Firearms*
  • Humans
  • Illinois
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Police / organization & administration*
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities*
  • Violence / prevention & control*
  • Virginia