More than 160 college presidents have signed an open letter that urges lawmakers to enact stricter gun laws. “We urge both our president and Congress to take action on gun control now,” reads the letter, which was released on Wednesday, less than a week after a mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school left 26 people dead. The letter notes that the college leaders involved in the campaign are also parents who hold a variety of political views.
In their letter, the presidents state that, as a group, they do not oppose gun ownership outright. But in many states, legislation has been proposed or introduced that would make gun possession legal on college campuses. “We oppose such laws,” the letter states.
It also calls for the elimination of the “gun-show loophole,” which makes buying firearms easier, and pushes for a reinstatement of the ban on military-style assault weapons that expired in 2004. The letter acknowledges that gun-safety laws alone will not prevent all future violence. Identification and treatment of the mental-health issues that have come to light in many mass shootings must also be addressed, it states.
The campaign, which calls itself College Presidents for Gun Safety, was spearheaded by the presidents of Oglethorpe University and Agnes Scott College, in Georgia. Most of the presidents who signed the letter lead private, liberal-arts colleges. The list of signatories distributed by the group includes 17 college leaders from Pennsylvania, nine from Connecticut, and one from Colorado, a state where concealed-carry policies on campuses have been the subject of legal fights in recent years.
“The time has long since passed for silence and inaction on the issue of reasonable and rational gun-safety legislation,” the letter concludes. “We hereby request that our nation’s policy leaders take thoughtful and urgent action to ensure that current and future generations may live and learn in a country free from the threat of gun violence.”