Gun Bill Could Make College A Blast

MIAMI (CBS4) – Florida International University banned tobacco on its campuses last month. No more cigarette smoke. But could gun smoke be in the future?

Critics fear campus gunfire will be the result if a bill proposed in the Florida legislature becomes law. The measure would allow those with concealed weapons permits to carry their guns openly – in plain view.

The bill would also repeal a ban on firearms on college and university campuses. State law currently prohibits guns on campuses, except in the possession of police. Even the security personnel of visiting dignitaries are not allowed to bring weapons on campus unless they are certified law enforcement officers.

“Weapons on campus will lead to more confrontations, I really feel that,” said FIU Police Chief Bill King.

King has joined with university police chiefs across the state to oppose lifting the gun ban.

“To take the position that everybody should be armed, I think that’s a big mistake,” King told CBS4’s Gary Nelson Thursday.

King said students and faculty carrying guns – openly or concealed – on campus would create an atmosphere of “fear or intimidation” and create potential for armed conflict.

Discussions on campus can be spirited, King said. Folding weapons into the mix “could turn a political debate” into a gunfight.

University of Florida Police Chief Linda Stump told the Gainesville Sun, “I don’t think you’re going to find anybody in higher education in law enforcement who is going to want guns on their campus.”

FIU student Vindhya Khare said allowing weapons would invite trouble. “It’s just asking for something bad to happen,” Khare said.

Music professor Catherine Rand, lunching in a courtyard with a colleague, found the notion of guns on campus hard to swallow.

“The university campus is here for the educational needs of the students, and I don’t think handguns are a part of an educational need,” Rand said.

Student Jesse Tarr said raging hormones could add to potential gun rage on campus.

“The guys are a young age, and that’s where the most violent crime is, males my age – 18 to 24. So I’m not sure that’s a great idea,” said Tarr.

The sponsor of the measure, Senator Greg Evers, R-Baker, believes more guns in the hands of honest citizens will deter criminals.

“Criminals will avoid armed citizens, because they don’t want to get shot,” Evers said in a recent article he wrote in response to an editorial critical of his bill.

Proponents of allowing permitted gun owners to “carry” on campus say it could help prevent or lessen massacres, such as the one at Virginia Tech in April of 2007 that saw a gunman kill 32 people.

The argument didn’t sell for student Rachel Hemsing at FIU Thursday.

“I definitely understand that some people feel they could protect themselves from a shooter,” Hemsing said. “But guns actually only serve to instigate violence, in actuality.”

Police Chief King said most citizens with gun permits are not sufficiently trained to react properly in situations where people are coming under fire.

He said innocent bystanders could be put at risk by citizens engaging in a gun battle. He said it could also hinder police response in an emergency.

“If we respond to an active shooter, and you’ve got a number of people with weapons in the classroom, there’s no way of us knowing who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy,” King said.

More from Gary Nelson
  • Peter

    Responsible individuals should be able to possess a firearm responsibly. For a law to compromise anyone’s freedom or constitutional rights (such as restrictions on firearms), it is my opinion that more evidence is required clearly showing that the restriction of firearms on campus prevents campus crime. I find it hard to believe that a change in the statute will affect crime one way or another and believe that if legislation has no impact, it should not exist.

  • GwoBlanc

    This is pathetic. Your Republican legislature at work…

  • tom

    “The measure would allow those with concealed weapons permits to carry their guns openly – in plain view.”

    Before writing please read the laws if a person has a Concealed Weapons Permit they can not carry a gun in plain view it must be concealed.

    Also the law states that to apply for the permit the person must be over the age of 21. So when the article has quotes from people that do no know the rules you should correct them or at least mention it.

    Also there are more people in this state that have this permit than a person might think as based on numbers from the state there are 959,357 people with a concealed weapons permit in Florida. That works out to about 1 in 20 people. Now with that many people carrying everyday this fear that honest law abiding citizens carrying on campus would cause harm is a little far fetched. We don’t have issues with this in the supermarket or the movie theater.

  • Steve Hathorn

    After just reading the comment from Michael Weatherly, there just isn’t anything to add, he pretty well said it all and I for one 2nd everything he said. Anyone who goes through the process of obtaining a concealed carry permit so they can legitimize their 2nd amendment rights in my opinion did so because they do have a working knowledge of the gun they have and the reasons for carrying are their business. Not to be criticized by the non carrying public for wanting to be able to protect themselves. Our country is what it is today because of our constitutional rights, and that includes our rights to ensure personal survival.

  • Jonathan S. Holt

    If students of legal age are allowed to carry (weapons / firearms in public view) on campuses, it is a violation of the concealed weapons permit laws, as they are stated now. The laws now state that no weapons / firearms are not permitted on school property, this includes colleges and universities.

    If the the students (of legal age and properly licensed) can carry weapons on campuses, this includes colleges and universities, in open view to the public, then why can’t Jon or Jane Q Public do the same any where he / she chooses to. including bars, restaurants and, let’s say football games.

    This is an outrage! This should not be allowed!

    This seems like double standards in favor of the young and not the older (mid to upper age) who have led an honest life, and propably have had some sort of training of how to handle weapons / firearms.

    • Michael Weatherly Jr

      Jon it states “The measure would allow those with concealed weapons permits to carry their guns openly – in plain view. The bill would also repeal a ban on firearms on college and university campuses.” So “those with concealed weapons permits” mean 21 and over to include teachers, parents, and anyone who has the CWP. So when the Bill passes the CWP rules will change too. So there is no double standards my friend.

  • MM

    I am a gun owner, usually side with pro-gun issues and usually vote Republican. That being said I think this idea is ridiculous. It is not like we are having a major crime wave at Florida universities and colleges. Come on Evers, this is a little over the top.

  • P. Williams

    I almost never carry a gun because I’m afraid of what will happen at the place I’m going to. If I felt that way, I wouldn’t go there. But I never know what will happen at all the places in between — parking lots, the highway, the gas station or convenience store, etc. If I have to visit a college campus, I might be safe there without my gun (though I wouldn’t count on it). But what about everywhere else I go beforehand and afterward?

    Police Chief King hasn’t been paying attention to the issue of armed citizens. He thinks that more armed citizens leads to more confrontation, but this has been proven false in every state where people carry firearms. And the crime rate in Florida among those who have concealed weapon licenses is far lower than among the general populace. The problem isn’t with the people who are licensed to carry.

    People who commit mass shootings are cowards. They choose places like schools because they know that it’s against the law to have guns there, so their victims will be less able to fight back. They surrender or self-destruct as soon as they meet determined resistance, whether from police or armed citizens. If this law is passed, just the possibility that there could be an armed professor or student in the class will greatly reduce the chance that anyone will have to actually use the gun they’re carrying.

  • Robbie

    One thing that people seem to be forgetting is that the repeal of the state law in no way restricts the campus from maintaining a no firearms policy. For instance, according to my Campus Code of Conduct I am not even allowed to have on my person the little key-chain Swiss Army knife with a one inch long blade. I checked out the Code of Conduct for three other universities, they all contained language which would maintain a gun free campus even if the law was repealed.
    One thing that comes to my mind is how do criminal justice programs currently handle this law. Do they provide dummy guns or have their graduates never publicly carried a weapon in their life? If the law was repealed than the criminal justice program could allow, let’s say, their senior students to carry a pistol just like they will when they become police officers or FBI agents. The university could utilize them as a reserve force in the case of an active shooter. As of now there is no such option.
    The bottom line is that if the law was repealed the campuses would be given the individual choice as to who can and how they can carry a weapon. FIU Police Chief Bill King, or the editors of his interview, fails to make this clear. I say that allowing the colleges and universities to make an individual choice is the right thing to do.

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