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UCF gun policy to be updated, firearms allowed

By Katrina Poggio and Fred Lambert
On January 22, 2014

UCF students, faculty and visitors who are legally allowed to own a gun will now have the freedom to keep a gun in their vehicles on campus.

While the previous policy banned all weapons on campus with the exception of pepper spray, the new policy “allows for anyone to store a gun in their vehicle, securely encased, while on UCF property,” said Peter Stephens, a community relations officer with the UCF Police Department.

The new policy comes in the wake of a ruling in a Jacksonville appeals court last month, which reversed the University of North Florida’s policy banning firearms on campus, including those secured inside vehicles.

The lawsuit was filed against UNF jointly by nonprofit, pro-gun-rights group Florida Carry, Inc. and Alexandria Lainez, a UNF student, according to a press release from Florida Carry.

The suit was given teeth by a 2011 state statute from Chapter 790, Section 33, which, according to language in the bill, seeks to “provide uniform firearms laws in the state” by requiring “local jurisdictions to enforce state firearms laws.”

University spokeswoman Courtney Gilmartin said that UCF is in the process of rewriting its gun policy to conform to the court’s ruling, which allows students, faculty, staff and even visitors to bring firearms to campus “as long as they are securely locked in their personal vehicles.”

Private institutions, such as Full Sail University and Rollins College, are not obligated to change their gun policies.

“UCF will comply with the ruling, and in the meantime, UCF Police will not enforce the portion of our current policy that contradicts the new ruling,” Gilmartin said in an email.

It’s unclear when the drafting of the new policy will be completed, Gilmartin said, adding that, “UCF follows state law when it comes to firearms on campus.”

Stephens said that campus police are not all that worried.

“This really did not affect us,” Stephens said. “Officers were not out searching vehicles to discover weapons anyway. Understanding the sheer scope of that on a campus this size with a population of 60,000, and how many thousands of visitors and cut-through traffic every day, it’s not a big deal from our standpoint.”

Some students, such as 21-year-old psychology major Amanda Vazquez, are concerned about the new rule.

“I mean, I understand with everything that’s going on, but at the same time how are they keeping track of whether those guns do stay in the cars?” Vazquez said. “We don’t know if people are, like, slipping them in their pockets or anything like that, so it’s kind of discomforting.”

Corey Brecher, a 20-year-old mechanical engineering major, thinks the change in the gun policy would “only cause more problems.” He also thinks students may be scared to walk around campus at night because they may feel in danger.

Austin Wade, a 20-year-old radio-television major, said, “I think [the new policy] is good because the Tower 1 incident last year was scary, and I think it’s good to have [the new policy] because if someone were to attack us, the shooter would be the only one with a gun.”

Officer Charles E. Nanney, major of the warrants bureau at the Miami-Dade Police Department, said the gun policy revision is “not a bad thing.”

The way Nanney puts it, “students are vulnerable,” and a gun offers protection. With a ban on guns, criminals will still disobey the law and shootings can still happen, but if students have guns they can protect themselves.

“About the Tower 1 incident, guns were banned and he still had a gun,” Nanney said. “At least if someone had a gun, they could have protected themselves in case he was shooting students.”

Nanney thinks having guns in a car is not secure enough. Unless the gun is in the trunk of the vehicle, someone can easily break into the car and take the gun. The key is to allow people to protect themselves with guns, without letting the wrong person have access to these weapons.

Nanney said it is important to regulate who has a gun, and he believes the university should background check the people who bring guns on campus. He said he feels it is necessary for students to have guns for protection purposes, but it must be done in a safe manner to avoid issues.

Gun policy facts

1. Firearms may be on campus, but must stay

in vehicles.

2. Firearms must be locked away when

in vehicles.

3. UCF will comply with state's rulings about guns on campus.

4. Private institutions like Rollins, Full Sail are not obligated to change their campus gun



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