UPDATE: Campus Carry bill did not pass through Florida House of Representatives

In an attempt to make campuses safer in Florida, a bill has been proposed to allowed concealed weapons on campus


Max Jackson

Photo by Max Jackson | Photo Editor

Update 5/23:

The bill that made its way through the Florida house of representatives, to allow concealed weapons on campus, has died. It was passed through the higher education and workforce subcommittee, the judiciary committee, and the criminal justice subcommittee before it was dissolved in the second reading on April 28.

Come July 1, don’t be surprised if you notice a gun tucked in the waistline of your classmate’s pants.

Soon, people with a concealed weapons permit may be allowed to carry  weapons on to college and university campuses in Florida. The bill, sponsored by Republican representative Gregory Steube of Sarasota, is currently being put through the state’s House of Representatives. If passed, it would nullify all previous provisions that currently do not allow for people to carry concealed weapons onto a campus.

Photo by Max Jackson | Photo Editor
Photo by Max Jackson | Photo Editor

“There’s a number of prohibitions in the concealed carry statute that specifically say where concealed weapon permit holders may not carry concealed firearms,” said Steube in his initial presentation of the bill on Jan. 20. “This bill goes into that statute and repeals … one paragraph that specifically states the prohibition of concealed carry permit holders on colleges and universities.”

Steube hopes that by passing this bill, it will create a safer environment on college campuses. With proper training, background checks and other mandatory requirements imposed, he feels that students could defend themselves  faster than law enforcement if an incident were to arise, such as the one that occurred last November in a Florida State University library.

The bill was proposed just 18 days after the shooting on Nov. 20 at  Florida State University. The incident resulted in three injuries and the death of the shooter, Myron May. Steube expresed that this tragedy was not the catalyst for this bill.

“I had this bill in drafting before the Florida State shooting. School safety has always been a paramount issue that I have dealt with and it was not in specific reaction to the Florida State shooting,” said Steube.

Florida is not the first state to see a bill like this.

Currently, 20 of the 50 states have bans of concealed weapons on college campuses, and seven states permit concealed weapons on campus. The other 23 states leave the decision up to each individual college or university.

Upon discussing the topic with students, it became quite clear that most people had an opinion on the matter.

Sam Smith, a sophomore criminal justice major and part of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, said that he had no previous knowledge of the bill prior to talking with the University Press. His lack of information on the bill however, did not stop him from giving his opinion.

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Jessica Diehr, a senior studying political science and anthropology and a member of the College Democrats has quite a few concerns about the bill.

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This bill could result in “students walking around, not feeling safe, because having a concealed weapons does not mean you are a responsible gun owner,” added Diehr. “College campuses were on the list [of places that weapons are prohibited] for a reason, and that’s because it does more harm than good.”

FAU police Chief Charles Lowe agreed with Diehr. He and 12 other police chiefs from campuses around Florida signed a letter addressed to Florida Senator Greg Evers, who filed the bill, stating their opposition to the bill and their reason for their stance.

“The recent Active Shooter situation at Florida State University is one of the most glaring examples of why students, employees or others should not be able to carry weapons on campus,” the letter read.

“We protect young men and women who are away from home for the first time, while giving parents the peace of mind of knowing their children are in the safest environment possible. Weapons on campus will not protect students but create situations for many more tragic incidences.”

This stance is comparable to university policy regarding gun control. “Weapons are incompatible with the learning environment and inappropriate in the academic setting,” states the FAU policy. “The University prohibits the use, storage and possession of weapons, with limited exceptions, to help ensure a safe and secure living and learning environment.”

If this bill were to pass, it would negate the FAU policy that is currently in place.

Be sure to follow the progress of the bill at MyFloridaHouse.gov as it moves through the appropriate committees.

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