Students wary of allowing firearms on Florida campuses

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Elissa Bio

Florida is trying to become the eighth state to let students carry concealed firearms on campus.

As early as July 1, students on college campuses in Florida could see their classmates with firearms tucked into the waistband of their pants. Legislators in Florida are trying to pass a bill that would allow concealed firearms on Florida’s college campuses.

Students around the country are nervous about the possibility of having armed students roaming the campus.

“I absolutely do not want this bill to pass,” said Joanne Choi, a student at Mercer University in Macon, Ga. “Personally, I don’t want to worry about the possibility of getting shot every day whether it be on purpose or accidental. I can’t trust people to be responsible with a gun when they can’t even be responsible with a condom.”

Republican representative Gregory Steube of Sarasota sponsored the bill. He hopes that by passing this bill it will create a safer environment on college campuses, according to MSNBC in January 2015. The Tallahassee Democrat in April 2015 reported that Steube said he feels that students could defend themselves faster than law enforcement if an incident were to arise

Pierre Tafelski – a 26-year-old recent graduate who studied at Ouachita Baptist University, Mercer University and Hawaii Pacific University – said he disagrees this bill will increase safety on campus.

“I think it’s going to bring more violence and crime risk than safety,” Tafelski said. “Because then it’s the student’s judgment whether to fire or not. I don’t think college students are mature enough to make the right decision when it comes to using a firearm in an intense situation.”

If the bill does pass, Florida will become the eighth state to allow concealed weapons on campus, joining Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin.

Justin Robinett, 22, who attends Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, one of the states where concealed weapons are allowed on campus, said he’s against passing the bill despite having no negative experiences at his own college.

“I think that only certain people should be able to carry weapons on school campus, like police, retired police officers and current or retired military with extensive background checks and a concealed weapons permit,” Robinett said.

Robinett said he’s only seen guns in cars on campus because going to the shooting range and hunting are popular activities in his small town in Idaho.

Vannessa Turner, a student at Chaminade University in Honolulu, said alcohol use plays a role in why she opposes passing this ball.

“In the hands of college kids who are partiers and drinkers and all that… It could get into the wrong hands of the wrong people who are not responsible,” Turner said.

In order to obtain a Florida concealed weapon or firearm license an individual must be at least 21 years of age (unless a service member or veteran of armed forces), meet citizenship and residency requirements, provide fingerprints and submit to a state and federal criminal record and health background check.

If this bill passed, only students 21 or older would be allowed to carry concealed firearms on campus, but college students are still wary of this impending bill.

“Age does not change my opinion,” Choi said. “Age does not equal the maturity or the responsibility required to carry around a weapon that can easily end the lives of others.”

“I don’t think it would make a difference,” Tafelski said in reference to the Florida concealed weapon or firearm license age requirement, “It’s the same as alcohol … People are 18 and are drinking even though it’s against the law, so they will find a way.”

The bill has continued to gain momentum after being filed by Steube on Nov. 19. On April 2, after a prolonged and heated testimony, Florida’s House Judiciary Committee approved the bill. The committee’s approval clears it for debate on the House floor. The same bill must also pass through a Senate committee or committees before the full Senate can vote on passing the bill into effect.