The Florida House passed HB 4001 and HB 163 Wednesday, allowing licensed gun owners the right to openly carry concealed weapons on state college campuses.
The bill was tirelessly debated by house members for approximately three hours. Most Democrats strongly opposed both bills and most Republicans supported them.
Republicans argued the bills will make the state safer and they are supporting gun owners second amendment constitutional rights. Democrats argued the bills will create public safety risks.
Out of a total of 117 votes the bill was passed with 80 yeas and 37 nays.
Republican Rep. Jimmie Smith told NBC Miami he voted for the bill to be passed and feels his decision will keep Florida safe.
“You want proof? The proof is in the pudding. The proof is out there. The proof cannot be denied. Being pro-Second Amendment in the state of Florida has kept the state safer,” Smith said, “Enough of the fearmongering.”
Jaya McFarland, fourth-year FAMU business merchandising student from Atlanta, Ga., feels more time and thought should have gone into passing this bill.
“The bill wasn't well thought out. For example, this is a public area where students go to school and if people can walk around freely with guns, that is endangering an entire community of thousands of students because this is a college town.” McFarland said. “Look at the situation that happened at FSU last year, so now you are basically permitting psychopaths to kill people.”
Bethune-Cookman University mourned the death of student-athlete Don’Kevious Johnson, who was shot and killed by another student after an alleged fight, Feb 13th.
Martina Miller, fourth-year FAMU business administration student from Miami, thinks college campuses should remain a safe haven for students.
“Allowing students to carry weapons on campus will increase the number of guns being openly carried in general. Campus is supposed to be a safe haven but crimes are being committed everywhere and i don’t think this bill will help,” Miller said.
An officer employed with FAMU Department of Campus Safety and Security, who wished to remain anonymous, feels the bill undermines the purpose of law enforcement officers.
“I think the bill being passed kind of sets back us as law enforcement officers because I believe a lot of people would be able to carry a concealed (weapon) may not be responsible,” the officer said. “If they are responsible in the heat of the moment, (they) may use that weapon on campus in an argument. I think officers should be the only ones on campus with weapons.”
Two other gun bills, SB 130 and SB 228, were sent to gov. Rick Scott.
The first would prohibit recreational use of guns in highly settled areas. The second would change Florida’s 10-20-life law that now sets mandatory minimum sentences for crimes involving guns.