House approves bill that would allow guns on college campuses
Just two months after a shooter open-fired in the Strozier Library of Florida State University, a bill that would allow guns on college campuses passed a House committee.
While the legislation has two House stops to go, it would allow students with concealed weapons licenses to carry firearms on campus; a person must be 21 to acquire such a license. At UCF, current policies only allow those with the proper permits to store their guns inside a locked vehicle on campus.
Generally supported by Republicans and opposed by Democrats with an 8-4 vote, the bill would make college campuses safer, argued Rep. Greg Steube, a Republican from Sarasota. He said shooters could be stopped by a gun owner before police arrive at a scene, and added that gun-free zones do little to deter shooters.
"It didn't stop the shooter at Florida State University's library, it didn't stop the shooter at Virginia Tech," told the Associated Press.
However, opposing representatives reasoned that an armed college student wouldn't be the ideal person to respond to an emergency situation in lieu of trained officers.
"To suggest that they would be the proper entity to confront an active shooter is very, very misguided," Rep. Dave Kerner of Palm Springs told the Associated Press.
Others added that putting weapons in the hands of a demographic known for high suicide rates and alcohol use would be unwise.
On the other side of the coin, bill supporter Rep. Dennis Baxle asserted it's a student's right to protect himself. He added that universities would be liable if, for example, a student was raped and didn't have a gun to protect herself.
"I heard about expanded drug and alcohol abuse on campuses and out-of-control parties," the Republican from Ocala told the Associated Press. "Folks, if you're living in that kind of environment, you better carry a firearm because you could get raped, beaten or worse."
In spring 2013, UCF experienced its own brush with guns on campus, when a student's plan to murder Tower 1 residents failed. Before taking his own life, James Seevakumaran had collected nearly 1,000 rounds of ammunition inside his on-campus residence hall.
Caroline Glenn is the News Editor at the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @byCarolineGlennor email her at CarolineG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.