Around this time last year, a loophole was forced open that allows students to keep guns in locked cars. Many found it problematic, some saw it as a decent compromise between an all-out ban and a free-for-all. But for a few on the ideological fringe, it wasn’t nearly enough of a relaxation.
For that reason, House Republicans have proposed a total lift on the ban. It’s championed by Rep. Gregory Steube of Sarasota, a young representative who took office in 2012.
If this bill passes, anybody with a concealed-carry license will be allowed to have a firearm on their person anywhere on college campuses in the entire state of Florida. It would remove guns from the list of things you can’t have in dorms — but have no fear, dangers such as candles, cats and unlit cigarettes will remain prohibited.
In typical fashion, gun-rights advocates and the National Rifle Association are framing it as a reversal of seemingly irrational policies. Raquel Okyay, right-wing writer and Second-Amendment fetishist, catalogued the responses of concealed-carry advocates in a post which hailed the proposed law.
They offer up concealed-carry on college campuses as a solution for all that ails us as far as violent crime is concerned. The spate of attempted sexual assaults early last Fall and the shooting at Florida State University Strozier Library are being used as justifications to allow everybody to be packing.
“Where colleges have allowed concealed carry, there has not been a single mass shooting,” said Florida Carry Inc. Executive Director Sean Caranna, who apparently missed school the day they explained the concept of causation.
It basically comes down to dirty politics. The bill is nothing but a manifestation of a lofty dogma held by our friends in the state House and the offices of advocacy groups — this idea that bad things only happen because there aren’t enough guns in circulation, that the only thing which stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, despite never presenting a single case to back up the assertion. Pushing this bill through is their way of asserting dominance, shoving their warped action-movie version of reality down our throats and leaving the students to deal with the consequences.
A stubborn fact remains: this isn’t a goddamn John Wayne movie. It’s incredibly easy to fantasize about an armed citizen using a gun to stop acts of horrific violence. We could depart here and list all kinds of terrible things that could happen with a proliferation of guns on campus. But we won’t; that’s fear mongering, which is exactly what got us into this mess in the first place. The proposed law isn’t just dangerous, reckless and irresponsible. It’s wholly unnecessary. While Rep. Steube sits in his office protected by police and metal detectors, we have to sit all day in classrooms full of students armed with guns.
[A version of this story ran on page 6 on 1/26/2015 under the headline “Lift on gun ban absurd, dangerous for students"]