Florida House may take up ‘campus carry’ bill

Campus carry” Bill would allow anyone with concealed weapons permit permission to carry on campus. Photo courtesy MGN Online

House Bill 6001, better known as “campus carry,” would allow firearms and handguns on college campuses if approved by the Florida Legislature.

The bill was introduced by state Rep.
Anthony Sabatini and co-sponsored by Reps. Mike Hill and Stan McClain. The bill comes at a time where mass shootings and school shootings across the U.S. are on the rise.

Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram believes the bill could cause some concern for students’ safety.

“What you don’t want to face is a situation where you have a student or students who disagree with each other or a professor and they start to enact some type of violence,” said Ingram.

The bill states that it would remove the provision prohibiting individuals with a concealed carry license from bringing a handgun or firearm into a college or university facility.

In 2019, there were 45 different school shootings across the U.S. The shootings ranged from kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms to colleges and universities.

Thirteen of those school shootings were on college campuses. During those shootings, some victims were killed while others sustained life-threatening injuries.

This has been a topic of discussion for many states since 2010, when campus carry bills began to be introduced. Several states have passed legislation that allows the carrying of a concealed weapon on college campuses.

Advocates argue that allowing concealed weapons on campus would help safety concerns, while opponents believe that campus carry laws would do the opposite and would leave students feeling unsafe.

“Colleges and universities are safe havens for students. They shouldn’t have to worry about who the other student is with a gun,” said Ingram.

Recent Florida A&M graduate Theresa Ballard said she is unsure about HB 6001. She believes that it could both help and hurt student safety on campus.

“I think to a certain extent people will feel safe and threatened. I would feel safe if I could carry my weapon because in a life or death situation waiting for help can take too long,” said Ballard.

The controversial conversation progresses, as the number of people with a concealed weapon licenses grows. According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, there where 2,056,597 active concealed weapon licenses as of December 31, 2019.

In 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the teacher carry bill that allows staffers and teachers to carry guns in the classroom.The bill was essentially an expansion of the “guardian program,” which allows certain school officials to carry guns on campus.

The campus carry bill would come on the heels of the teacher carry bill. But unlike the teacher carry bill, where certain teachers and employees are able to carry guns, everyone stepping foot on a college campus with a concealed weapons permit, would be able to bring a weapon.

“I don’t believe that just anyone should be able to have a weapon or a firearm on campus. Only certain people who go through the proper training should be able to carry guns on campus not everyone,” said Ballard.

The bill made its way into the House for the fifth straight year. In past years, the bill failed to make it through both chambers.

HB 6001’s first stop would be in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee, if it is assigned a hearing date.