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Campus Gun Bill Clears First Committee


Florida lawmakers are considering whether to allow people to carry guns on public college and university campuses.

The bill comes in the wake of a November shooting at Florida State University, which injured three people—one critically—and left the gunman dead. During a committee hearing on the proposal, Eric Friday general counsel for the pro-gun lobby group Florida Carry, backed thebill.

“We have the chance with this bill to join Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon and Wisconsin in allowing licensed citizens to take responsibility for their safety," Friday told the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice. "Not one of these states has had a mass shooting…since allowing law abiding citizens to defend themselves.”

Opponents to the plan say allowing people to carry guns on campuses opens the door for some situations to escalate and turn violent.

“If the idea of this is to allow people to defend themselves, I don’t see how—-if I were a faculty member and somebody came in arguing with me about a bad grade they got—-the only way I could have the drop on them is to have a loaded gun in my hand the entire time I’m talking to them," said retired FSU administrator Brian Lupiani.

A similar bill failed during the 2011 legislative session.  former Senator and now FSU President John Thrasher strongly opposed the bill and helped defeat it, after the daughter of a friend was killed in an accidental shooting at a fraternity house near FSU.

The current proposal comes as a new study from the U.S. Justice Department shows nearly two-thirds of public and private college and university campuses have armed officers patrolling them. The bill has yet to get a hearing in the Senate.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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