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Debate over guns on college campuses comes to UNF

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Both sides of the gun debate were represented at a forum on guns on college campuses at the University of North Florida Monday night, following tragic shooting on college campuses across the country.

Both sides hoping to get them to understand each other's views with one man in attendance whose life story was forever changed by gun violence running into his old boss, former Jags owner Wayne Weaver.

Former Jacksonville Jaguar Richard Collier, wheelchair bound after being shot 14 times in a drive-by shooting in 2008, was invited Monday to talk about the effects of gun violence.

"It's very hard. I know how gun violence can interrupt your life, I still go through bullets that I still have inside me to this day," Collier said. "I think we need some gun control. I'm all for guns though, I'm for protecting your home, protecting your family, but these people who go out and deem themselves self-appointed deputies and self-appointed sheriffs, I don't think that's safe."

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Collier was one of the members of the panel Monday discussing the controversial issue of gun violence and for him it's a personal story, for others on the panel, it's legal and political.

"It's a goal that's going to happen throughout the presidential campaign. And my goal is to have a civil conversation," NRA member Cord Byrd said.

Byrd is a local attorney, representing the National Rifle Association and he's pushing for things like allowing guns on college campuses, saying that would prevent the types of mass shootings that have been seen in recent years.

"With every one of these shootings, it takes place on a gun free zone. So one of the laws I think we need to change is to get rid of it. Advertising to the criminals where the unarmed targets are," Byrd said.

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Julie Ingersoll is a UNF faculty member who disagrees with Byrd.

"How nice is that going to be in a classroom when somebody stands up with a gun and then four other students have guns and everyone's shooting across from each other," Ingersoll said.

The moderator for the forum was UNF president and former mayor John Delaney, whose school lost a fight in recent years to ban guns in locked cars on campus, which are now allowed.

"Universities are about controversy. You're about challenging the status quo and this is the kind of a place you should have these," Delaney said.

One statistic the people arguing against guns on campus cited was that suicides on college campuses far outnumber the amount of shootings.
 


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