Facing Lawsuit from Florida Carry, FSU Scraps Gun Ban in Cars on Football Game Day
FlaglerLive | September 10, 2015
A day after getting hit with a lawsuit by a gun-rights group, Florida State University on Wednesday updated information in a football “game day” guide about fans keeping firearms in their vehicles.
But the changes to the school’s “Game Day Plan 2015” guide for fans won’t holster the legal challenge by Florida Carry Inc. Sean Caranna, Florida Carry executive director, said the group will continue seeking an injunction against university President John Thrasher and university Police Chief David Perry.
Meanwhile, another high-profile issue about guns on campus will heat up again next week when House and Senate panels consider controversial proposals (HB 4001 and SB 68) that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry firearms at colleges and universities. The idea stalled during this spring’s legislative session, but gun-rights supporters are bringing it back for the 2016 session.
The Florida Carry lawsuit stems, in part, from a 2013 ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeal that said the University of North Florida could not prevent firearms from being stowed in cars on campus.
The original version of FSU’s “game day” guide said weapons are prohibited on campus and that a “fan may not store firearms or other weapons in their vehicles parked on campus while attending the game.”
In updating the guide Wednesday, the university removed references to weapons from a section regarding parking. In another area of the guide, the school noted that while weapons and firearms are permitted in vehicles on campus, the items must be “securely encased in the vehicle.”
Caranna, who hopes to get a judge to rule before Saturday’s FSU home game against the University of South Florida, said only handguns must “meet the definition of being securely encased.”
“The new policy and the statements in their press release are insufficient and factually wrong,” Caranna said. “They could have saved us all a lot of trouble by giving us a call asking us and our attorneys to help them update the policy and come in compliance.”
Florida Carry and FSU graduate student Bekah Hargrove, a member of Florida Students for Concealed Carry, argue in the lawsuit that the “game day” guide fails to follow the 2013 ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeal.
The guide provides general information on parking, traffic patterns, tailgating, concessions, and other items such as banners, drones and smoking.
On Wednesday, the university acknowledged in a release that the guide hadn’t been updated to reflect the 2013 ruling. The school also pointed out in the release that while the out-of-date web site language existed, nobody had been cited for having firearms or weapons legally secured in vehicles.
Thrasher, a former powerful lawmaker, has been a key opponent of the legislative proposals that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns on college campuses. The renewed proposals are scheduled to be heard next Wednesday in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.
In a prepared statement Wednesday related to the Florida Carry lawsuit, Thrasher indicated he hasn’t changed his mind about those legislative proposals.
“While we fully intend to continue complying with Florida law, I nevertheless reiterate my strenuous opposition to the recent initiatives to permit the carrying of guns on university campuses,” Thrasher said. “I do not believe that arming students increases campus safety.”
–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida