Florida State University President John Thrasher says his position has not changed since the recent filing of a bill allowing people to open carry on public college and university campuses. It’s the same bill Thrasher helped defeat in 2011 when he was a state senator.
In 2011, the testimony of Dr. Robert Cowie, a friend of Thrasher, also helped derail the bill. Just weeks before, Cowie’s daughter, FSU Student Ashley, had been accidentally shot by a rifle and killed at a frat house.
“This proposed change in the law will place an undue burden on the universities to keep our campuses safe. Ashley was shot to death during a time when the law prohibited weapons on campus, and still this tragedy has occurred,” said a tearful Cowie, at the time.
Now, the bill has been revived in the wake of a shooting at FSU’s Strozier Library where three people were shot and the gunman killed.
Representative Greg Steube (R-Sarasota), who's sponsored similar measures before, says he filed the bill because people have an inherent right to defend themselves. He adds in his opinion, lawmakers essentially stripped that right as you walk onto a college campus. He believes if the prohibition wasn’t in place, maybe it could have helped during the recent FSU shooting.
The former army veteran says he’s also gotten calls of support from students across the state who are also military vets.
“Think that’s some of the frustration that people have if God forbid that something were to occur and you’re a military veteran who’s served honorably and have gone through all this training and have a concealed carry permit, and you can’t carry on school grounds, there’s nothing that you can do but wait on law enforcement to get there. And, sometimes, two to five minutes is a very long time when there’s an active shooter scenario,” said Steube.
As first reported by News Service of Florida, Steube implied the bill has a better chance of passing, now that then-Sen. Thrasher is no longer in the Legislature. And, according to an FSU spokeswoman Wednesday, Thrasher says “his position hasn’t changed.”
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