August 16, 2019

Response to “Campus Carry” Legislation

My opponent, Representative Anthony Sabatini, recently filed a proposal to allow Campus Carry across Florida colleges and universities. This new measure would allow students who are 21+ and have a concealed carry permit to bring their firearms onto campus grounds. 

I cannot express how terrible this approach is for higher education in our state.

Currently, schools have the ability to allow appointed boards of trustees to regulate whether persons with concealed carry permits are allowed to bring their firearms into buildings. Students with concealed carry permits are, however, allowed to store firearms in their cars on-campus parking lots.

Campus grounds and buildings are, at this time, considered one of the explicitly defined gun-free zones in the state of Florida as the institutions have to “opt-in” if they want to allow students, faculty, and staff to carry.

Historically, Senate Republicans have repeatedly blocked legislation concerning Campus Carry. The most recent of this opposition came last year when state Senate President Bill Galvano declared dead a guns-on-campus measure before the proposal even made it to the legislative session. That measure had also been filed by Representative Sabatini and came shortly after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

University leaders themselves frequently speak out against Campus Carry, and many campuses renewed their commitments against concealed carry following the 2018 Parkland and Hot Yoga shootings.

I do not believe that Campus Carry is an appropriate route for higher education in Florida. Is a college student with a concealed carry permit prepared to safely handle a terrified rush of students during an active shooter situation? Is a college student capable of identifying the shooter and taking a safe shot in that same tumbling of bodies?

The answer, in most cases, is no. 

We do not need to put the responsibility of protection onto students when the role belongs to heavily trained police and security officers who already maintain a presence on campuses.

I do not support Campus Carry, and I will continue to support smart gun laws in office.