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Wednesday, July 06, 2022

A petition is on the rise to defeat legislation that would allow concealed carry on campus.

The online petition, which has already gained 2,000 signatures from the coasts of Miami to Seattle, opposes recently introduced legislation that would amend a Florida statute to allow concealed weapon license holders to conceal carry firearms on Florida campuses — including UF and Santa Fe College.

Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus Executive Director Andy Pelosi launched the petition Aug. 10. The organization’s aim is to defeat the legislation.

“The petition is really just one tactic,” Pelosi said. “It’s one way for people to take action.”

In addition to online, the bills have faced opposition from Florida colleges and universities. Both UF and Santa Fe oppose such legislation.

In August, both bills were referred to committees for review. Pelosi said he anticipates the bills will be reviewed as early as mid-September and is encouraged by the current number of signatures.

“But we’ve got a long ways to go in terms of getting the word out there to Floridians around the state that this measure is back and it needs to be defeated,” Pelosi said.

But not all Floridians are against the legislation.

President of Students for Concealed Carry at UF Joshua Roe, 33, supports it and said he thinks those opposing the legislation don’t fully understand what it would and would not allow.

“We need to have a conversation about the reality of civil liberties,” Roe said. “This is, I believe, much more than just some hot political topic. This literally comes down to my protection and the protection of others, the protection of students on the university campus, the protection of my spouse and my newborn daughter.”

With more than 50,000 students enrolled at UF, Roe, a tourism and recreation doctoral student, said it isn’t possible for UPD to provide protection for all students at all times.

It isn’t that firearms will provide protection in life-threatening situations, Roe said.

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“A weapon or firearm is going to be a much more immediate response for someone to defend themselves using that inanimate object as a device to equalize the power disparity in those situations than using a cellphone to call and wait for police officers to show up after the fact and take a report,” Roe said.

Contact Hunter Williamson at hwilliamson@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @hunterewilliam

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