School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Lucinda Spaulding


Concealed Carry, Mass Shooting, Active Shooter, Higher Education Institution (HEI), Campus Safety


Education | Higher Education


The number of mass shootings and active shooter situations has significantly increased at higher education institutions (HEIs) over the past several years, and as a result, they have introduced issues of safety that administrators must handle. The purpose of this embedded, single case study was to understand the attitudes concerning concealed carry on campus for students, staff, and faculty at Liberty University. The primary theory guiding this study was vested interest theory (Crano, 1997) as it examines the attitudes of those most closely involved with a situation and how they become vested in a particular situation which results in behavior changes, and the secondary theory is Maslow’s (1970) hierarchy of needs, as it argues that in order for individuals to achieve their potential, they must first have their safety needs met. Data collection entailed a survey sent to all students, staff, and faculty followed by interviews with select participants. Data analysis included the coding of the data to examine themes across the embedded units and provide descriptions of the attitudes and perceptions of faculty, staff, and students across the university. The research questions guiding this study were: (1) How do students, staff, and faculty feel about concealed carry on campus? (2) What factors influence the attitudes of faculty, staff, and students towards concealed carry on campus? (3) What affects does a concealed carry policy have on student, staff, and faculty perceptions of safety? (4) What impact does the university’s culture have on student, staff, and faculty attitudes towards concealed carry? (5) How do the students, staff, and faculty perceive the exposure given them concerning concealed carry on campus? Three overarching themes were identified: education and training, cognitive and emotional maturity, and mental health.