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Florida Legislature Considers Controversial "Campus Carry Bill"

Florida currently bans guns on college campuses, but some lawmakers want to change that. Photo credit: flickr/Creative Commons/Scott Beale
Florida currently bans guns on college campuses, but some lawmakers want to change that. Photo credit: flickr/Creative Commons/Scott Beale
March 23, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Even as university presidents, campus police and student government leaders rose up against it, the Florida Senate's Higher Education Committee has given its approval to a controversial bill (SB 176) that would allow concealed firearms on college campuses.

State Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda is one of the few Democrats in favor of the legislation. She says for her, it's personal.

"I was sent to college with a handgun by my father who trained me to use one, and thank God, because I had a rape attempted and was able to get to my gun, and was able to stop the rape," she relates.

Florida is one of 20 states that outlaw guns on campus, but the debate was renewed last fall after two students and an employee were wounded at Florida State University's main library by a gunman later killed by police.

Florida lawmakers in favor of the bill say it comes down to 2nd Amendment rights, and the National Rifle Association argues it will make colleges safer.

But a litany of university presidents, campus police and student body leaders have come out strongly against the legislation.

Testifying before lawmakers, Florida State student Harrison DuBosar said he believes it would only make matters worse.

"This is our number one student concern right now on campus,” he stated. “We are confident in our law enforcement. We are not confident in untrained students over the age of 21 with a concealed carry permit and a one hour class, to carry guns on campus."

The bill next faces the judiciary and rules subcommittees before reaching the full Senate. A companion bill is also being considered in the Florida House. Both branches are majority Republican.



Phil Latzman/Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - FL