As some lawmakers propose tighter gun legislation in the wake of the Arizona shooting, one Florida state senator is pushing for a bill to loosen gun control in the state as well as the classroom.
Last month Sen. Greg Evers proposed an open carry gun law under Senate Bill 234. The bill would allow anybody with a concealed weapon permit to carry a handgun in plain sight. Individuals with a concealed weapon permit would also be able to practice open carry at college campuses, career centers and private schools. The bill will take effect July 1 if it is approved.
UF Police Chief Linda Stump said the bill would cause a “major shift” in the way UFPD conducts business.
For Stump, the bill presents a larger issue.
“This is an educational setting where we hope people have rational, open discourse,” Stump said. “We oppose legislation that would put guns in that situation.”
Brian Malte, director of federal mobilization for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, is working with students across the country to defeat legislature such as Senate Bill 234.
Malte said he believes open carry could contribute to a culture of fear and intimidation.
“More guns in the mix just create more of a problem for public safety,” he said. “This is no time to bring the Wild West to Florida.”
Sean Caranna, executive director of Florida Carry, a movement supporting the right to bear arms, said people are playing up the “Wild West” idea. In the 43 states that allow some form of the bill, those scenarios just do not happen.
Caranna said the bill would deter crime and could protect students in the classroom.
“You go to college to prepare for the rest of your life,” he said. “You shouldn’t lose it because you couldn’t defend yourself.”
Florida is one of seven states that do not currently allow open carry gun rights.
Malte encourages everyone to reach out to legislators, no matter his or her stance on the issue.
“The more outrage there is, the more the gun lobby starts to retreat,” he said. “Without a lot of protest, there is a chance the gun lobby could shove it through.”