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Gun Safety Summit Fights Firearms on College Campuses

Florida gun-safety advocates are gathering this week to fight proposals coming up in the next legislative session that would allow guns on college campuses. Credit: SShepard/iStockPhoto.com.
Florida gun-safety advocates are gathering this week to fight proposals coming up in the next legislative session that would allow guns on college campuses. Credit: SShepard/iStockPhoto.com.
August 12, 2015

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida gun-safety advocates will meet Thursday to draw up a battle plan against several bills – measures that were refiled last week – that would allow guns on college campuses.

Current state law forbids anyone except law enforcement from carrying a firearm on campus. Activists are gathering in Orlando at an invitation-only summit, co-hosted by a national group called Keep Guns Off Campus and the Florida League of Women Voters.

The league's gun-safety committee chair, Patricia Brigham, says she believes more guns would only complicate things in the event of a campus shooting.

"If multiple guns are drawn," she says, "by the time the police get there, how are they supposed to know who the 'good guy' is from the 'bad guy?' The police are the ones who are trained to deal with these types of situations, not students."

House Bill 4005 and Senate Bill 176 would allow anyone with a concealed-carry permit to bring a gun onto a campus. A companion bill would authorize school districts to arm one person on staff who is a veteran or a member of the military or law enforcement.

Gun-rights supporters argue that people should be able to protect themselves, no matter where they are. But Brigham said campuses are safer when young people leave their guns at home.

"We know there's a lot of drinking, they're under stress," she says. "Also, suicide is the second-highest cause of death among college-age people. Add all those factors in and introduce guns? It's a very bad mix."

The bills will be introduced formally in the state Legislature in January. Similar bills died in committee last spring.

The controversy comes against the backdrop of an incident at Florida State University in Tallahassee last November, when a gunman injured three people at the campus library before being killed by police.

More information is available at The Florida Voter website, at www.thefloridavoter.org.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - FL