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Thursday, June 30, 2022

No laws allowing weapons on campus in Florida

Despite the events at the University of Central Florida and other universities around the nation, Florida does not have legislation on the floor to change its laws for concealed weapons on campuses.

Last week, Florida Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) said in a news conference he wouldn’t hinder Senate committees from discussing controversial legislation such as gun control.

However, he said he would not vote for any of the bills seeking to restrict or regulate gun ownership. He said his idea of gun control is a “steady aim.”

However, Arkansas pulled the trigger on the debate of concealed carry on college campuses at the end of February. The state legislature passed a bill to allow colleges and universities to decide whether to allow concealed weapons on their campuses.

Arkansas will join 23 other states that allow individual colleges or universities to decide whether to ban concealed carry of weapons on campus, according to the National Conference of state Legislatures.

UF history senior Erin Gallagher does not think Arkansas’ initiative is enough. The initiative would allow colleges to opt in for concealed carry for faculty and staff. Gallagher said she believes the same right should be extended to students.

“It is a matter of security in an otherwise virtually unprotected area, but more importantly, of guarding our constitutional right to take care of ourselves,” the 22-year-old said.

Students for Concealed Carry, a national nonpartisan organization, advocates for legal concealed carry on college campuses in the U.S. as an effective means of self-defense.

“States tend to go in opposite directions,” said Kurt Mueller, the national director of strategy for the organization. “Overall, it is important to ensure democracy and the right of the Second Amendment to all citizens and not to limit that right by any means.”

UF has its own chapter of Students for Concealed Carry.

The organization holds an “empty holster” protest each year where supporters gather with empty gun holsters on their belts to symbolize that they are unarmed and unhappy. The next one is April 8, said 23-year-old Tyler Marzella, the chapter’s president and an agriculture operations management senior.

However, Lauren Nickoloff, director of outreach for the UF College Democrats, doesn’t think guns should be allowed on campus.

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“In my opinion, concealed carry encourages vigilante justice, rash acts and it is likely to cause more harm than it would protect,” the 19-year-old political science sophomore said.

UPD Captain Jeff Holcomb said University Police stands by the law that prohibits any means of concealed carry on college campuses in Florida.

“We currently enforce the law in place [in] Florida and agree with our chiefs that that’s the way we want to remain here in Florida,” he said.

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