Guns on campus could be a reality as soon as June if a recently introduced bill passes the Florida House and Senate.
After a legal dispute last semester, UF agreed to allow guns stored in locked boxes inside parked cars, but the new bill — House Bill 4005 — would allow concealed-carry permit holders to carry their weapons freely on campus.
Beyond the parking lot exception, UF opposes guns on campus, spokeswoman Janine Sikes wrote in a statement. UF will look to law enforcement for recommendations on matters of public safety.
“The State of Florida University Police Chiefs, including UF Police Chief Linda Stump, are united in opposition to any legislation that would allow guns on campus,” Sikes wrote.
Gabriel Mondry, a 19-year-old UF health sciences sophomore, said he is a proud member of the gun community and was raised with and formally trained in gun safety.
A member of the UF Students for Concealed Carry and UF Practical Pistol Team, Mondry said he hopes the bill is passed because he feels his constitutional rights are being violated with the law as is.
“I didn’t mean to get involved in the politics, but someone can’t just take away your rights,” Mondry said. “Politics makes my blood boil.”
He said he doesn’t think lawmakers should infringe on his rights because he’s on a school campus.
“It’s our right as humans to protect ourselves,” he said. “It’s in the Constitution.”
Mondry said he doesn’t think carrying a gun on campus is dangerous. And because a gun owner in Florida must be 21 and have a permit, there won’t be an immediate spike in students carrying.
Criminals are already going to be carrying weapons, regardless of the law, he said.
“A college campus is no different than anywhere else in the United States,” Mondry said.
But not all students agree.
“Allowing non-law enforcement personnel to carry concealed handguns on campus will create an unsafe environment for students,” said Amir Avin, the UF College Democrats president.
For now, the 20-year-old UF finance junior said the organization is coordinating efforts with other chapters in the state to gather petition signatures. He added that they plan on going to Tallahassee to testify before the state Legislature.
“No one’s trying to take away anyone’s guns,” he said. “A lot of us are gun owners, and we are entitled to those rights, but bringing more guns into a college campus just doesn’t make sense.”
Many things could go wrong with introducing concealed handguns to college campuses, Avin said.
“It just adds a whole number of variables into the equation,” he said. “On a college campus we entrust our safety to our law enforcement officers and (Gainesville and University Police) do a fantastic job protecting our students.”
[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 1/26/2015 under the headline “UF concealed carry possible"]