Florida legislators are gearing up for the 2016 legislative session, and have started by advancing a campus carry bill:
The campus concealed carry bill and another proposal backed by the National Rifle Association were the first two measures passed by any legislative committee in preparation for the 2016 session that begins in January.
Supporters say the bill by Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, and Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, to allow concealed weapons at colleges and universities — which passed both the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee and Senate Criminal Justice Committee — is about public safety. Concealed carry permit holders, they say, could help keep campuses safe in the event of a mass shooting or other violent crime.
Florida State University student Shayna Lopez-Rivas, a rape victim, said she would feel safer if allowed to carry her gun on campus. “I resolved to never be a victim again,” she said. “I will not be a sitting duck for a rapist or a shooter.”
But the bill (HB 4001, SB 68) has drawn ire from state university presidents and police chiefs and the State University System’s Board of Governors, as well as gun control advocates.
“When I applied to UCF, I wasn’t expecting to walk the halls and attend class wondering if the person next to me was trained to carry a firearm,” said Adam Whitmer, a former Marine and instructor in the Corps’ firearm training.
College campuses are high-tension places. They’re full of young people who are stressed and trying to learn about the world and themselves, bill opponents argue, not to mention the drug and alcohol use that’s so prevalent in universities.
According to this argument, colleges are high stress environments where a disproportionate number people abuse drugs and make bad decisions.
Isn’t that an argument that well-adjusted, mature students with concealed carry permits should be able to have firearms on campus to defend themselves?