Concealed weapons on college campuses bill clears first round

The Florida House Criminal Justice Subcommittee approved a bill from Rep. Greg Steube that would allow concealed firearms on Florida colleges and universities Tuesday.

Under the proposal (HB 4005), employees and students with licenses would be allowed to carry handguns or concealed weapons on public colleges or university campuses.

Parents, students, association members and university representatives showed up to speak against the proposed bill, which passed with an 8-4 vote.

John Quiroz, a student from the University of South Florida, traveled to Tallahassee to speak to the committee against the bill and left disappointed.

“I’m a resident assistant on campus,” Quiroz said. “Sometimes, I have to break up fights. It would be scary if I had to go knowing a gun could be there when I arrive.”

With the Nov. 20 shooting at Florida State University fresh in his mind, Rep. Randolph Bracy, D-Orange County, felt this bill was a direct reaction to the tragedy.

Steube, R-Sarasota, quickly reminded the committee that he has been trying to pass this bill since 2011, and the Florida State incident should be an example of why the bill should be passed.

“One of the individuals who was injured in that shooting was a veteran who has a concealed weapon permit,” Steube said.He could have solved that issue before law enforcement arrived.”

Rep. Clovis Watson Jr., D-Alachua, said the bill puts people younger than 21 and people who may not be gun savvy around a gun if they are housed in no-single student apartments and dormitories across Florida.

“If this bill passes, a campus officer can go to a crime scene and he may be out gunned,” Watson said.

Rep. Dennis Baxley who voted against the bill 2011 said a situation at his daughter’s school changed his perspective rather quickly.

“I’m so scared daddy,” said Baxley, D-Marrion County as he read the text messages from his phone.  

Baxley daughter’s school had been put on lockdown because of a fake threat.

With this victory, the bill now moves to the Higher Education & Workforce Subcommittee.