Not all that long ago, college counselors talked about Target Schools, Reach Schools, and Safety Schools.

For those who need a refresher in the terminology:

Target School -- You have the grades, the scores, and pretty much fit right in with what the college is looking for.

Reach School -- Not quite there academically, and perhaps a longshot. A toss of the dice. Why the heck not?

Safety School -- You are breathing and have a pulse at the time of application. Congratulations. You're in!

Fast forward to what has become a keenly competitive and often shockingly selective college admissions environment, and the line between "safety" and "reach" not only blurs, it disappears into the blue haze of 3% acceptance rates and 35,000 applicants for 3,000 freshmen seats.

Today, "safety" takes on a new, and somewhat more ominous (and, to me, discomforting) meaning, where students and their parents, when considering colleges to which to apply, must be mindful not only of such mundane factors as affordabilty, program offerings, roommate selection, and dining hall fare, but, more critically, the threats -- real and perceived -- to students' physical safety on and off campus.

Sexual assaults, all too familiar on college campus, and grabbing much attention in the national media. Fraternity hazings, and other machinations of the yet to mature mind, that often result in unintended yet most serious consequences. And, now, "campus carry," the right of students to carry concealed hand guns on the college campus, in the lecture hall, and, presumably, under the pillow in the dorm room.

Campus Carry has been adopted by a number of states, including Colorado and Wisconsin. SEE, Armed Campuses.

Most recently, Texas adopted a measure allowing guns on college campuses.READ, Texas Lawmakers Pass a Bill Allowing Guns at Colleges.

Yes, some states give individual colleges final say on campus carry -- allowing them to decide whether guns will be permitted only in certain locations on campus, if at all. And, no doubt, arguments are made, with much emotion, on both sides of the issue, as to whether arming campus keeps students safe, or actually increases the risk of harm.

Students themselves have divergent views on campus carry, as is evidenced by such websites as Students for Concealed Carry, on one end of the barrel, and Keep Guns Off Campus, on the other.

Note that I am not here to fuel the flames -- as much as I believe we need to snuff them out. I report. You make your own reasoned (or less rational) decisions. Personally, I would not find much comfort knowing (or, perhaps not knowing) that the fella next to me at the movie theater has a magnum under his popcorn, or that, concealed in her purse, that young mother in aisle 3 at Walmart has a Saturday Night Special. And, quite frankly, I sleep much better at night knowing that there is no hand gun in the night table. As for arming congregants against the threat of gun violence in a house of worship, well, God only help us if it comes to that!

My purpose here, though no less heartfelt, is more limited. Simple guidance, to students and parents alike, when choosing colleges to apply to and/or attend. Guns on the college campus or no guns on the college campus?

In my opinion, college kids (and they are kids, with much the same mindsets they had at home, sans the parental restrictions) + Campus Carry = A Most Dangerous Mix! [Add in raging hormones, mental meanderings (with an often attendant lack of sound decision-making), and a keg party or two, and you have the recipe for real tragedy.]

And as my colleague, Laura Rader, of Wise Ambitions College Consulting, reminds us, "one third of college students report seeking treatment for depression and anxiety... adding personal hand guns to that condition is courting tragedy." 

Even assuming the scenario, frequently repeated on campus, of the gunman in the library or on the quad, what would we find -- having armed the "good guys" with guns -- after the smoke had cleared and the hysteria subsides? How many dead? How many wounded? Were lives saved by the quick-thinking action of a cool minded, steady hand in the physics lab? Or did the wild west, "shoot first, ask questions later," free-for-all result in the greater carnage (they call it, I believe, collateral damage) of friendly fire?

There's certainly enough for parents to worry about when they send their children off to college. Are they eating properly? Did they go to class? Is there too much partying? Will they get enough sleep? The concerns are seemingly endless. Do we really want to add concealed guns on campus to the list?
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