It’s no secret that sexual assault has been a tremendous problem on college campuses across the nation, and is still on the rise. Numerous college administrations have enacted awareness efforts — including here at the University — but these have proven to be ineffective for the most part. I believe this inefficacy stems from the fact that efforts have been focused too much on awareness as opposed to prevention. While education and understanding are certainly crucial in enacting change, these factors alone are not enough to achieve a significant reduction in sexual assault. The most common answer presented to this problem is that young men must simply be taught to not commit these crimes, which serves as the basis for most awareness initiatives. While this may seem like a simple, wholesome solution at first, it doesn’t really stand up to much scrutiny. This argument is predicated on the assumption that there are individuals who think that sexual assault is justified in the first place, which I largely believe to be false. In the same way that murderers don’t think that murder is right, and that thieves don’t think that stealing is right — except in the cases of mental illness — to assume that awareness is the main issue is a myopic oversimplification. People commit crimes despite knowing that what they are doing is wrong, which is what makes reducing crime rates such a complex issue. The basis of Hobbesian theory, as described in the Leviathan, states that human nature is very similar to animal nature, and that people inherently act selfishly and without regard for others. The only thing which prevents these animalistic natures from overcoming our society is the social contract that we make as a population, which manifests itself in the form of our government and constitution. However, these tendencies are still present in all individuals, and their prevalence is the source of every type of crime, ranging from murder to robbery to sexual assault. It is for this reason that awareness efforts will fundamentally never be enough to eradicate the problem — some humans will always inevitably commit crimes and there is no way to stop that. What, then, is the solution to reducing the rate of these heinous acts? Given the fact that stopping the criminals themselves is virtually impossible, the only logical thing we can do is equip individuals with the tools to protect themselves. In order to restore the personal sovereignty of students, I believe that gun-free zones on college campuses should be removed. This may seem a bit counterintuitive at first, but data suggests that gun-free zones are actually significantly more dangerous than areas where concealed carry is permitted, with 98 percent of mass shootings occurring in gun-free zones. In addition, there is a direct correlation to the recent increase in sexual assault on campuses with tightened college gun laws in recent years. One could contend that looser gun laws would enable rapists and criminals further, but this doesn’t make sense since criminals inherently do not have any regard for laws anyway. Stricter gun laws also haven’t been proven to reduce crime, as evidenced by the failure of the Clinton Administration’s assault weapons ban and by the fact that cities with tough gun laws like Chicago have some of the highest murder rates in the country. One could also contend that having looser guns laws would lead to more deaths in altercations between criminals and students, but statistically this line of thinking is fallacious as well. In 92 percent of encounters with a criminal, a gun owner only has to brandish or mention their firearm in order to deescalate the situation. Much like a nuclear deterrent, the mere presence of a firearm is usually enough to prevent conflict. That being said, what loosening gun laws will do is allow men and women to protect themselves from criminals who would be able to get firearms regardless of what the laws are, if they so desired. To quote Thomas Hobbes, “A man did excel all other animals in this faculty that when he conceived anything whatsoever, he was apt to enquire the consequences of it, and what effects he could do with it.” Despite the inherent evil nature of humans which Hobbes philosophized about, he believed that we are adept at weighing the consequences of our actions, and making decisions based off of that. Using a gun as a means of self-defense sends a warning to all who might even consider committing a crime, such as rape, in the future. Instead of stripping the liberties of students to try and protect them to no avail, we should empower them with their constitutional rights and allow them to protect themselves. Milan Bharadwaj is an Opinion columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.