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Guns-on-campus law moves forward

Universities opposed to change that would allow concealed-carry weapons

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida would become the ninth state to allow students to carry concealed weapons on campus under legislation approved by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee Monday afternoon.

The committee voted 302 to approve the legislation, which has three more committee assignments before it can be voted on by the full Senate.

But universities and many parents are adamantly opposed to the change.
 
Five hundred high school juniors and seniors from across the country spent Presidents Day touring Florida State University.
 
Not one of the parents News4Jax spoke with were aware that lawmakers are debating allowing concealed-carry permit holders to carry on campus.
 
"My concern is that someone is going to get angry, be drunk, or whatever, and accidentally use a weapon that's permitted to be there in the first place," said Wayne Cross of Orlando.
 
"Sometimes you can't avoid it. The bad people will have guns anyway on campus if they so desire," said Jeff Wilson of New Orleans.

A local attorney said even if this legislation passes, some campuses will still be able to enforce their own policies.

"This is saying that government agencies for example universities, state universities now would be in the position where concealed weapons could happen. Private universities throughout the state still get to dictate what they want to do. The second amendment doesn't apply to a private organization," said Randy Reep with Randy Reep Law Offices.
 
Some parents said it might make a difference on whether they would send a son or daughter to FSU.
 
The assailant who attacked the FSU library on Nov. 20 was dead at the hands of police within five minutes of opening fire. Bill sponsor Greg Evers, R-Milton, said that shooting is reason enough to allow concealed carry on campus.
 
"The best-case scenario, it may take five minutes, three minutes -- that's three minutes too long," Evers said. "It has to be dealt with immediately if you are going to save lives."
 
First introduced in 2011, the idea of allowing concealed weapons on college campuses quickly died when a coed was shot at Florida State.
 
Now, university officials are saying no in force.
 
"The Board of Governors just came out against it," FSU President John Thrasher said. "All the campus police chiefs have come out against it."
 
Florida is one of 19 states that currently ban weapons on campus. Eight states currently allow guns on campus, and 23 states leave the decision up to university governance boards.

Reep said he doesn't believe the potential passing of the legislation would turn into a slippery slope for citizens to carry in other places like polling stations or bars, but with the amount of recent college campus shootings, the passing could be advantageous.

"I don't know that I love the idea of universities having guns but if we do would it be wise that the people that we have vetted more closely than the students for example administrators who have background checks, routine follow-ups and that type of thing done, maybe that is the people you want carrying a weapon," said Reep.

Students in Florida are allowed by court order to have weapons in their vehicles.