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Criminal Justice Committee Gets It Wrong

Passes bill to conceal weapons on campuses

By Willie Holmes
On February 17, 2015

Seven states allow concealed weapons on campuses while 20 states have bans. The 23 other states leave the decision to the institutions. Although I support a person's right to own a gun, I can't reason with supporters for weapons on college campuses in Florida.  

The criminal justice committee in the Florida House of Representatives passed a bill with an 8-4 vote on 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.

The bill was filed by Rep. Greg Stuebe, R-Sarasota, who said, “Only .2% of licensed gun carriers are 21 years old in Florida and many, if any, are graduating seniors.”  Stuebe has failed in the past to get this bill through the House, and I see no reason why he should succeed this time.

Rep. Clovis Watson Jr., D-Alachua, believes the bill puts individuals younger than 21 and those who may not be gun savvy around a gun especially if they are housed in dormitories across Florida. With the amount of quarrels and disagreements that come along with living with someone in college, this may be a recipe for disaster.

In most cases, roommates are strangers and sometimes clash over simple differences. Bringing a gun into this situation would not benefit anyone.

“I do believe in the right to bare arms, but I also believe in protecting our young people on college campus and I don’t think this bill will do that,” Watson said.  

Marjorie Sanfilippo, a psychology professor at Eckerd College, testified before the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee on her experiences with students.

“I had to, on occasion, ask campus security to be present should the situation become more dangerous,” Sanfilippo said. “Allowing these upset students to carry concealed weapons would without a doubt increase the amount of violence toward me and my colleagues.”

These were the exact worries of John Quiroz, a student from the University of South Florida, who traveled to Tallahassee to speak to the committee against the bill.

“College is very stressful, especially during exam week.”  Quiroz said.

"The underdeveloped frontal lobe is what causes them to act impulsively, especially in an emotionally-charged situation, “ Sanifilippo said.  She believes this, along with drinking and pressure, could make for a bad situation.

According to the National College Health assessment 63 percent of college students report drinking frequently in college. Twenty percent consume more than seven drinks in one sitting. This bill would bring guns into an environment that isnt always stable and filled with alcohol.

It’s easy to see that many would feel uncomfortable being on any college campus knowing that someone could have a gun present. Students as well as professors should feel safe on college campuses, but they aren’t the only people being put in danger by this bill. High school field trips, food delivers, transportation workers and many others are being put in danger with this bill. It should not be passed into Florida law.

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