Right To Bear Arms On Campus?

In Thomas McCrory's morning routine, he gets his books, and gets his gun. He's ready for school.

McCrory's a junior at the University of Utah.

In 2006, Utah's Supreme Court explicitly allowed guns on college campuses for anyone with a concealed weapons permit, CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports.

It's the only state where that's allowed.

You carry it on your hip?

"Yeah, I carry it on my side, underneath the jacket," McCrory said.

McCrory, a ski-patroler, was paralyzed in a 60-foot fall. He felt vulnerable.

Then came the massacres at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University.

He started carrying a gun.

"It's a comfort to me knowing that I would have a fighting chance if something like that would happen," he said.

Now lawmakers in nine other states are debating whether guns belong on college campuses.

Georgia's one of them.

"How many kids must die before we realize that firearms in law-abiding hands actually save lives?" asked Georgia state Rep. Tim Bearden, a gun-rights advocate.

But the University of Georgia's police chief says more guns would make it harder to spot the real threat.

"There's only going to be a split-second there," said University of Georgia police chief Jimmy Williamson. "And I could see innocent people being shot by police."

A lot about this scares critics - starting with the image of armed college kids at a Saturday night keg party. And Utah's law says nothing about marksmanship. Students carrying a gun may have no idea how to use it.

But many in Utah are eager to learn.

"There are evil people out there," said Utah senior Molly Metcalf. "I don't know, I just want to feel safe."

McCrory practices every week - a growing trend in his undergraduate business school.

"At any given day, there's at least a dozen people within a hundred yards of me that are armed," he said.

Now students in other states want to arm themselves ... with the right to return fire.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann was named CBS News Transportation correspondent in August 2011. He has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001, and is based in the Atlanta bureau.