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Guns on Florida Campuses: University System Says No, Citing Values and Protection

| February 14, 2015

University police chiefs, the Board of Governors and the state's public universities want to keep it that way. (MTSOfan)

University police chiefs, the Board of Governors and the state’s public universities want to keep it that way. (MTSOfan)

Florida’s university system wants state lawmakers to holster the idea of allowing guns on campus.

A joint statement from the university system’s Board of Governors, university police chiefs and the 12 public universities expresses opposition to a legislative proposal (SB 176 and HB 4005) that would allow people with concealed-firearms licenses to carry guns at state colleges and universities.

In the statement, the university system said “that removing that long-standing protection is contrary to the values we embrace and could create new challenges in our ability to provide a safe and secure learning environment.”

The university system statement, released Thursday, came after the 12 universities expressed opposition to the proposal.

“Florida has long recognized the importance of protecting its students and the environment in which they learn by prohibiting firearms in university facilities,” the statement reads. “The State University System of Florida is similarly committed to the safety and security of all students, which is why university law enforcement officers have received extensive training on how to minimize harm in crisis scenarios.”

The Senate version of the legislation will receive an initial test Monday, when it goes before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. Sen. Greg Evers, a Baker Republican who chairs the committee, is sponsoring the bill.

Supporters of the proposal were not surprised by the university system’s stance.

“I find their statement more political that factual,” National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer said in an email Friday.

Erek Culbreath, president of Students for Concealed Carry at Florida State University, said in an email that his group has received “massive, albeit tacit,” support from the law-enforcement community.

“With the pro-gun stance of most of Florida’s sheriffs and officers, we know that this is not reflective of the beliefs of most officers,” Culbreath wrote.

FSU has been at the center of much of the debate after an on-campus shooting incident in November left three people wounded. The gunman, an FSU graduate, was killed by police.

FSU President John Thrasher, a Second Amendment proponent, has publicly maintained his opposition to the proposal, reflecting a stance he took when he was a member of the Legislature.

In 2011, then-Sen. Thrasher was able to block a similar measure following the death of FSU student Ashley Cowie.

Cowie, 20, was at a fraternity party when a gun held by another FSU student accidentally discharged, sending a bullet through her chest. Her father, Robert, a Jacksonville resident and friend of Thrasher, traveled to Tallahassee to lobby against the bill, arguing that putting guns in an area where drugs and alcohol are commonly used would make campuses more dangerous.

Culbreath said in the email he doesn’t think the public stance from the university system and campus police chiefs should derail this year’s legislative efforts.

“The facts of the benefits of concealed carry are well known, and this is why we have seen campus carry laws spreading across the country this session, from Texas to Montana,” Culbreath wrote. “The reality is the university leadership in its backward and disproven gun stance is on the wrong side of history.”

The proposal is one of two gun-related measures that will go before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee on Monday.

Also up is a second attempt (SB 290) by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, to allow Floridians to carry concealed weapons without licenses during times of mandatory emergency evacuations.

Brandes proposed a similar bill last year, but it failed to pass after heavy floor debate on the second-to-last day of the 2014 session.

The Senate guns-on-campus bill must clear four committees to reach the floor. The House version of the guns-on-campus proposal was approved last month by the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee on a party-line vote, with Democrats opposed. It now awaits an appearance before the Higher Education and Workforce Subcommittee.

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15 Responses for “Guns on Florida Campuses: University System Says No, Citing Values and Protection”

  1. confidential says:

    Well finally some common sense and hope they stick to this policy in spite of the NRA lobbyist and Trasher.

  2. Never Forget says:

    Hey, does Prof. Bill Ayers get to carry any of his bomb making material on to campus ? I bet there is more radical progressive teachers with violent backgrounds working at our colleges then there are students who would like to defend themselves.

  3. Jim O says:

    Not a smart move at all. You are telling all the loony tunes out there that they have free access to the campus. Does not seem logical to me.

  4. downinthelab says:

    “Shall not be infringed”

  5. Just me says:

    Love it they say it to ~”Florida has long recognized the importance of protecting its students and the environment in which they learn by prohibiting firearms in university facilities,” ~ How is that protecting them??? those with legally owned and carried guns are by far not those who commit gun crimes. So basically their saying we are going to protect you against law abiding people?????

  6. Sherry Epley says:

    Thank goodness some reasonable people are speaking out about this proposal.

    Here’s the reality of our lack of gun safety regulations:
    1. All it takes is one irresponsible hot head or young person playing with an AK47 and mass murder of innocent people can easily happen.

    2. Even guns purchased legally by a “responsible” gun owner can be stolen, given or sold to an irresponsible person or even a criminal. Once they are in public circulation they are not tracked and the original owner is not really held responsible for where they end up or how the may be misused.

    3. When more and more guns are out there in circulation with no oversight, there is more of a chance that guns will fall into irresponsible/criminal hands.

    4. Yes, hardened criminals will always find a way to get a gun. BUT, our irresponsible “armed to the teeth” culture just makes it easier for them because guns are now much more readily available.

    5. Next, this creates an escalated paranoia where even well intentioned, normally reasonable people feel the need to arm themselves 24/7 with a more and more powerful arsonal. Which in turn creates the need for the police to carry and use even more powerful weapons, just to keep themselves secure. It’s then a slippery slope to something akin to a militarized state.

    6. Logic should tell all reasonable citizens that there is no way having more and more guns in circulation with such lax regulations could end any other way. We will continue to be less safe in our schools, homes and neighborhoods until the proliferation of the sheer number of guns in public circulation is greatly curtailed, and responsible gun regulations are implemented and strongly enforced.

  7. #1 Gator Fan says:

    This is why the bad guys do their “shoot ’em thing” on college campuses. You rarely see a shooting at a gun show. Bad move.

  8. Lancer says:

    It might as well say”…citing emotion and lack of rational thought as we let our students/ cattle be led to the slaughter by evil people intent on causing mortal harm”.

    Welcome to our inept education system led by the worst generation in the history of the world…the baby boomers!

  9. JimBob says:

    At the very least it might protect FSU scooter owners from their football team.

  10. Real Florida residence says:

    Have any of you ever been on a campus, where male & female has a failed relationship. The female starts a new life with new male, ex-boyfriend intentionally picks a fight with new male, Both are great law biding students but one has a gun, due to heart break, pulls gun shoots female/male and self!!!!! My point is it doesn’t have to be a harden criminal, certain situations causes great harm to students, so I say due to lack of students maturity, let’s not put deadly weapons in their young hands, but we owe it to their parents to better protect them while being educated at any schools and colleges. Given the resources available, I know that our leaders can do a better job, guns for all is not reasonable and many of you know that.

    • matt says:

      Or new boyfriend has a conceal carry permit and not only protects himself but also protects his new girlfriend from her exboyfriend who is wishing harm upon them.

  11. gatorboy says:

    Why doesn’t the legislature begin by allowing guns in their own chambers?? Ever wondered about that?

  12. Real Florida residence says:

    This isn’t about gun laws it’s about gun maturity! One last point…… I’ve counseled 100’s of young college students who have told me this. I’m flunking out at college, but my parents doesn’t know it yet. I’d rather kill myself than tell them:::::::: WOW, ok now all of you that think it’s right, go ahead and add a gun to the equation. I would’ve never gotten a chance to counsel them if they had been in possession of a gun at the very moment depression over shadowed their judgement. Need I say more??????????

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