A bill was filed last week that would give individuals over the age of 21 the legal right to carry a concealed weapon on college campuses in Florida.
State Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a Republican from Clermont, filed the bill (HB 6007) with the intent for licensed carriers to be able to defend themselves if a hostile situation occurs.
Several Senate Republicans in the past have successfully blocked campus carry bills, including former Sen. John Thrasher, who is now president of Florida State University.
Police chiefs at Florida’s universities and state colleges have also opposed previous attempts to make it legal to carry concealed weapons on campuses.
Sabatini said in a statement that, “Many people inhabiting political offices ignore the constitutional rights of their own citizens. They’re afraid of controversy … and they sidestep and kill bills considered more controversial.”
Many students believe the harm will ultimately outweigh the good this bill is trying to implement.
Craig Walker, a student at Tallahassee Community College, believes this bill would create more problems if it were enacted into law.
“I feel as it’s a negative because you would have to do a lot as far as checking backgrounds,” Walker said. “We’ve had a lot of mass shootings and if you allow this bill to pass, who’s to say there won’t be even more mass shootings?”
Twelve states allow students and others to carry firearms on campuses including Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Texas and Tennessee. Sabatini said that such proximity to guns has not translated into more gun violence on campuses in those states.
“States are laboratories of democracy.” Sabatini said “And in those 12 states none of the things university presidents said would happen actually happened.”
Still there are students who disagree with the notion to allow students of age to be able to carry guns on campus.
Tony Paul, a graduate student at Florida A&M, shared his thought on the proposed bill.
“First off I disagree with having students who’re 21 and older be allowed to carry a firearm on campus,” Paul said. “Universities are a place where you have a large gathering of people and most large gatherings don’t allow firearms. I also understand some students have mental disabilities and if the law allows that individual to carry a firearm and something tragic happens, I’d have to blame that on the law. Because by the letter of the law, it’s justified”
The bill will begin making its way through House committees during the 2019 legislative session, which starts March 5.