Gabriel Mondry folded his arms and stuck out his hip to flaunt a black leather gun case.
He and other members of Students for Concealed Carry planned the Empty Holster Protest for the end of March to educate students on what members believe is the minimal impact of passing House Bill 4005, a new piece of legislation that would allow concealed carry permit holders to carry weapons on campus.
“We’re making an effort to show we have holsters,” the 19-year-old UF health science sophomore said. “If we were really carrying firearms, no one would even know.”
A sister bill — Senate Bill 0176 — was approved through a Senate committee Monday and the house bill through a House committee Wednesday. As it continues to gain support in Congress, Mondry and a few fellow members of the UF chapter of SCC began sporting their empty holsters Wednesday.
Mondry and Joshua Roe, president of the organization, wore outside-the-waistband holsters as a peaceful demonstration for the bill, they said. If the bill passes, they would conceal the guns with inside-the-waistband holsters.
“It won’t create a Wild West environment,” Mondry said. “People won’t notice them. They’re freaking out about nothing.”
Even if the bill passes, Mondry wouldn’t be eligible to tote his firearm on campus or any public place. Permit holders must be at least 21 years old, which limits the number of possible concealed firearm-carriers on campus.
Roe, a certified EMT and first-year UF tourism, recreation and sport management Ph.D. candidate, said few people will actually strap on holsters.
The 33-year-old said he has had thousands of hours of firearm training.
He said concealed carry on campus will not create a less-safe learning environment, as argued by the bill’s opponents. In a dangerous situation, it will act as a responsive measure of self defense before police arrive, he said.
“We care about each other and our safety,” he said. “We’re here to protect ourselves.”
Beyond a 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. UF faculty members passed a resolution to oppose the legislation in February and continue to watch the bill’s progress.
“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.
Jenna Goldman, the UF College Democrats vice president, recently rallied against the bill in Tallahassee. The UF political science and history senior said she would not feel comfortable knowing hot-headed students with access to drugs and alcohol were armed on campus.
She said the organization will rally more on campus when the bill gets to the floor.
“I encourage students to get involved — this will really, really affect us,” Goldman, 22, said.
But for Mondry and other SCC members, they’re hoping the Empty Holster Protest will prove the bill will not affect students negatively.
“It’s about educating and reaching out to the community,” he said. “We formally invite people against concealed carry to come to the range for knowledge on firearms.”
[A version of this story ran on page 1 - 4 on 3/19/2015 under the headline “Concealed carry bill passes through subcommittees”]
Gabriel Mondry, a 19-year-old UF health science sophomore, stands on Plaza of the Americas as part of an empty holster demonstration Wednesday afternoon. Mondray, who was wearing a an outside-the-waistband type holster, said the point of the demonstration was to show others that holsters are unobtrusive.