Students protest NRA effort to lift gun bans on campus

This week a bill that would lift gun bans on Nevada campuses passed the Nevada Assembly. The bill’s champion, Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, calls it “common sense legislation” that would help college women protect themselves from rape. But as Nevada students point out, the bill will make them feel less safe on campus, not more.

At a rally last month, University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) senior Madeleine Poore explained:

Survivors’ stories (are) being hijacked and used as a reason for getting guns on our campus when we know that guns don’t make women safer. When there’s a gun in the household, a woman’s likelihood of being murdered by that gun skyrockets…. It also perpetuates the idea of the rapist being a stranger in a bush, and we know that [in] 70 percent of sexual assaults that occur, the person knows the rapist. You’re not going to shoot your co-worker.

Fellow student Escenthio Marigny Jr. added, “”We know that people of color and women are treated differently when they defend themselves as opposed to white men.”

Students at UNR and Truckee Meadows Community College are fighting back against the bill, highlighting a failure on the part of pro-gun lawmakers to listen to students’ concerns and lived experiences. UNR student body president Caden Fabbi told the Reno-Gazette Journal, “This affects students more than anyone else. There should be a serious reflection of what constituents, who this affects, want.” The Associated Students of UNR recently passed a formal resolution opposing the bill and testified before the Nevada Assembly.

The bill heads to the Nevada Senate soon, as similar legislation pops up across the country. Student survivors, like University of North Carolina student Landen Gambill, are speaking up and demanding safe, gun-free campuses. As Landen explains,

The presence of guns is proven to exacerbate violence against victims, not prevent it. If my rapist had a gun at school, I have no doubt I would be dead. That’s why I started this petition asking legislators in these states not to allow guns on campuses and put survivors like me in even more danger…. Legislators have an important role to play in addressing rape on college campuses, but it’s imperative they take their lead from the chorus of survivors speaking out about what will actually make us safer. Allowing weapons on campus is not the answer. It will only give abusers and rapists one more tool to use to commit violence against people like me.

You can sign a petition from Gambill and Know Your IX (the organization I co-direct) here.

Header image credit: Reno Gazette-Journal

New Haven, CT

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and the co-founder of Know Your IX, the national youth-led organization working to end gender violence in schools. She's testified before Congress on Title IX policy and legislative reform, and her writing has appeared in a number of outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. She's also a student at Yale Law School, and you can find her on Twitter at @danabolger.

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and a student at Yale Law School.

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