Cocked, Locked, and Loaded: A Legislative and Policy Diffusion Analysis on Concealed Carry on College Campuses

Authors: Mack Seckinger Valdosta State University, Kristina LaPlant Georgia State University, James LaPlant Valdosta State University



Prepared for Presentation at the Southern Political Science Association Meeting San Juan, Puerto Rico, January 7-9, 2016


            As mass shootings continue to be an all too common occurrence in the United States, a flurry of state legislatures have debated concealed carry of firearms on college campuses. This study examines state policy decisions on campus carry through the lens of the policy diffusion literature.  The first stage of our analysis explores the adoption of campus carry through a probit regression.  Our second multivariate model examines the types of concealed carry laws across the states through an ordered probit analysis.  We investigate the influence of internal (intrastate) factors as well as external (interstate) determinants.  State population is negatively associated with the adoption of campus concealed carry, but the other internal determinants of state affluence, ideology, legislative professionalism, and minority population are not significant predictors.  In relation to problem environment, high gun murder rates are associated with the prohibition of campus carry while low rates are associated with the adoption of such laws.  “Gun culture” (measured as the number of gun-related interest groups and the number of gun purchases in a state) is a powerful predictor of the adoption of concealed carry as well as the types of campus carry laws across the states.  For external determinants, we find limited evidence of policy learning with the number of neighboring adopters positively associated with the adoption of concealed carry and southern states most likely to prohibit campus carry.  Following the design of Butz et al. (2015) this study also finds the interaction effect of percentage minority population and a dummy variable for the South is positively associated with the adoption of campus concealed carry, which points to the impact of racial threat on public policy.  The second stage of our analysis examines recent state legislative voting behavior in a western adopter (Idaho in 2014) and a southern adopter (Texas in 2015).  There are sharp partisan and racial cleavages in the adoption of campus concealed carry with Republican and white legislators most likely to vote for campus carry legislation.  The results shed light on political polarization, the subculture of violence, and racial threat in contemporary American politics.


Data Analysis Excerpt

Clarify runs a variety of simulations which more or less rescale our binary regression model in ways that allow us to make linear assessments about the magnitudinal effects of our regression coefficients. Therefore, as Figure 1 illustrates, increasing population

Predicted Probability of States Adopting Campus Concealed Carry Laws

density from its minimum value to its maximum value, while holding all other variables constant at the mean changes the probability that a state adopts a campus concealed carry law by a factor of -0.67. In other words, as a state becomes more populous the probability it will adopt campus carry laws decreases. Increasing the log of gun purchases within a state from its minimum value to its maximum value increases the probability that a state will enact campus concealed carry legislation by a factor of .49. Lastly, when we move from non-South states to Southern states and increase the minority population from its minimum to its maximum values, the probability that a state adopts campus concealed carry legislation decreases by an astonishing factor of .97.  A factor of 1.00 would indicate a perfect prediction or relationship between two variables; the data here suggest a strong relationship between the dynamics of southern politics and campus carry policy outcomes.


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