UF’s ban on firearms has loosened following a Florida appellate court decision that allows for guns locked inside a vehicle to be brought on campus.
The court decision came in December after a University of North Florida student filed a lawsuit against the university challenging its ban on storing firearms in vehicles on campus. The court ruled in favor of the student, setting precedent for Florida’s other state universities.
UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said a University Police policy for storing firearms in vehicles on campus was removed shortly after the court decision.
Sikes said UF’s gun policy doesn’t address firearms in vehicles, so a footnote was added to ensure clarity.
The footnote states that the university will comply with state law, specifically those governing guns securely encased in a vehicle.
“That’s not to say that guns are allowed on campus, because they’re not,” she said. “As long as people keep their guns in a closed container in their vehicle, we shouldn’t have a problem.”
William Salvato, a 21-year-old UF biology senior and president of UF’s Students for Concealed Carry chapter, said the ruling brings the club closer to its goal of decriminalizing possession of a firearm while on campus.
“We think it’s a big step in our direction,” Salvato said. ”We finally have something that’s been done toward our ultimate goal.”
He said the university’s current program, which allows students to store their firearms at UPD and check them out, isn’t practical.
Because alerts of dangerous activity near campus are a regular occurrence, Salvato said, owning a gun for self defense and having to leave it at the police station was impractical.
“Crime doesn’t have a time or place where it will occur,” he said. “When every second counts and the police are minutes away, having your weapon on you makes a difference.”
Other UF students are more leery of the court’s decision.
Andrew Sanchez, a 19-year-old UF biochemistry freshman, said the court’s decision only spells trouble.
Sanchez said letting students have firearms on campus could complicate already bad situations such as a robbery or assault.
“The police will always be your best option,” he said.
He said prior to the ruling, anyone knowingly bringing a firearm on campus would obviously have bad intentions.
Now, someone with malicious intent can have a gun in his or her vehicle on campus without hassle from the police.
“My gut instinct says it’s a little dangerous,” Sanchez said.
A version of this story ran on page 1 on 1/9/2014 under the headline "UF allows guns in cars on campus"