Gun control proponents congregated at the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee early this week to say no to the new legislation that would allow individuals with carry-conceal permits to have guns on public school grounds, including colleges, universities and K-12.
The advocates, who are part of former New York Mayor Michael Bloombergs Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action organizations, delivered 12,000 postcards as part of their backpacks and bullets dont mix, campaign. They also promoted a television ad across the state last week.
In addition to the Bloomberg groups, law enforcement lobby groups rallied together to protest the six bills that would allow lawful concealed carry on public college and university campuses, as well as K-12 schools.
Those of us charged with keeping campus communities safe know that allowing concealed handguns on campus wont make students safer, but it will make our jobs harder, said Terence Calloway, Florida A&M University Chief of Police in a statement. The only people on campus who should be armed are trained law enforcement officials, like the professionals who responded to the shooting at Florida State in just minutes.
Calloway is only one individual part of the opposition against the bill. The Florida Board of Governors, University Police Chiefs and leadership of all 12 of Floridas public universities came together against the proposed increase in gun rights last month.
The six bills with potential to pass are HB 4005 and SB 176, which would allow concealed carry on college campuses; HB 19 and SB 180, allowing for selected school safety designees to carry handguns on K-12 school campuses; and HB 251 and SB 754, which would allow those with firearms in school gun free zones to avoid criminal charges if they surrender the weapon, according to Guns.com.
The bills come about after a shooting at Florida State University and another at Bethune-Cookman. This eventually led to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee voting 3-2 in favor of the legislative proposal nicknamed “guns on campus bill.”
The proposal is currently under review by the Senate Higher Education Committee, and must be approved through three additional committees before reaching the floor, according to Central Florida Future.
Guns are only allowed on campus nowadays if they are stored inside locked vehicles of persons with proper permits. This bill would allow them to carry them in their backpack or on their person.
University students from around Florida, including UCF’s Weston Bayes, are worried that adding guns to the combination of alcohol, different mental states and college stress will only cause more problems.
“From what we’ve seen with different violence incidents, especially college campus incidents, and the FSU recent tragedy, it’s just been kind of apparent that it’s not really the best place for guns to be on campus,” Bayes said. “It’s important for students to feel safe as well.”
The bill does have its supporters on the other hand. An alliance called Students for Concealed Carry on Campus led by physics doctoral student, Wesley Chambers, believes the legislation would allow students to practice self-defense if another shooting were to happen.
“Those individuals who are licensed to carry shouldn’t be prohibited from carrying on campus,” Chambers said. “That right shouldn’t be limited when we walk onto campus.”