Florida law dictates that universities cannot restrict students from keeping their fi rearms in their vehicles
Students at Florida Gulf Coast University are now free to store guns in their cars with a permit. The FGCU Board of Trustees has changed the University gun policy to keep in compliance with a Dec. 10 ruling by the Florida First District Court of Appeals that states students and faculty cannot be denied the right to store guns in their cars. Chief of University Police Steven Moore does not see this decision as a safety issue.
“This will have minimal impact on the University. In the seven years I’ve been here, we’ve never had any violent encounters with students with guns in their cars,” Moore said.
In fact, the most common ways that students are caught with guns in their cars is when a student sees a gun and reports it to UPD or UPD walks by a car and notices ammunition on a seat. “Usually the case is that a student went offcampus and went target shooting, and then comes back without storing the gun off-campus,” Moore said.
Some students feel that changing the gun policy is a decision that would make it easier for students to bring guns on campus. “It’s ridiculous,” said sophomore Drew Flowerday. “Why would they rescind a preventative measure from the policy?” History major Lori Boegershausen feels differently. “If someone’s going to bring a gun on campus, they’re going to bring a gun on campus, whether they’re allowed to keep it in their car or not.” The reason for the policy change is a recent court ruling that sided with University of North Florida student Alexandria Lainez and gun rights group Florida Carry Inc. in the claim that UNF does not have the right to regulate guns in personal vehicles.
Judge Clay Roberts, one of the 12 out of 15 judges to side with Lainez and Florida Carry Inc. noted that while universities have the right to ban things like smoking and drinking, they cannot prohibit a constitutional right. “ R e s t r i c t i n g recreational activities is a far cry from restricting a fundamental, constitutional right to keep and bear arms for self-defense,” Roberts wrote in his decision. As the boards of other universities in the state of Florida meet, board members will be changing weapons policies to reflect the court ruling.
The FGCU policy still prohibits weapons on campus − meaning outside of cars − except for self-defense sprays, common pocket knives and non-dart firing stun guns.
Chief Moore does not expect this particular policy change to cause any issues with students. “We haven’t run into any cases or threats of gun violence,” Moore said.