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Last defense: We should pass state bill to allow guns on campus

Florida Gulf Coast University students, faculty and staff may be seeing an expansion of their second amendment right. Florida state lawmakers are pushing to allow the concealed carry of firearms on university campuses. House bill HB-4005 and a corresponding Senate bill, SB-176, were introduced in early December partially in response to the recent Florida State University shooting.

The bill is simple and short at only two pages in length, but serves to strike a portion of state law that prohibits concealed carry on campuses. If passed, those with concealed carry permits could legally carry a firearm on campus.

The bill is specifically described as serving to “delete a provision prohibiting concealed carry licensees from openly carrying a handgun or carrying a concealed weapon or firearm into a college or university facility, etc.”

HB-4005 is already inching its way forward as it passed Jan. 20 by an 8-4 vote in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Yet, the bill has a long ways to go as it must pass through two more committees (Higher Education & Workforce; Judiciary Committee) and finally face a vote on the House floor.

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Meanwhile in the Senate, SB-176 has yet to face any vote at all, but has been referred to four committees (Criminal Justice; Higher Education; Judiciary; Rules) and must pass through those before a final vote by the Senate.

Clearly the bill has much to face before reaching the governor’s desk, but proponents are hopeful and it could happen as soon as July. Recent Gallup polls and data gathered from the Pew Research Foundation indicate a rising support for firearms and there’s reason to believe this effort may succeed, unlike a previous attempt in 2011.

Those who oppose the bill claim more guns is not the solution and that it will actually result in a decrease in safety and increase in potential violence. Opponents say combining youthful students, stress, emotions, alcohol and guns is dangerous.

Thus, the benefits do not outweigh the negatives. Those who support the bill claim “gun-free zones” only serve to make faculty and students defenseless, walking targets. They add that only those with concealed carry licenses are covered under the bill and to qualify for a license one must be 21 or older, have gone through a background check and have passed a training course. Proponents say having armed, law-abiding citizens on campuses increases safety and protection, especially during active shootings.

Attempts were made to contact state Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen and state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto for comment, but they did not respond by presstime.

It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out in the coming months.

I hope it passes. I have been studying the issue of owning and using firearms for more than five years and I keep coming to the same conclusion: Individuals are safer with firearms.

The recurring theme of these heinous shootings we hear about on television is they take place in locations that have dense numbers of people who are unlikely to be armed and thus unable to fight back. It makes it easy for someone who wants to inflict numerous casualties before police (guys with guns) arrive and put a stop to it.

Why can’t we be given the chance to defend ourselves? Why must we be forced to wait helplessly while someone terrorizes our school?

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

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