GUN BILL DEAD IN SENATE
We are pleased to report (finally) some good news from Tallahassee: the Guns on Campus bill (Senate Bill 68) will not become law in this legislative session.
Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (R – Miami) has refused for a second consecutive year to bring the House-passed legislation to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings. As Chair of that committee, Diaz de la Portilla said, “I don’t think this is a Second Amendment issue…I think what we’re talking about here is campus safety and the best way to address that issue.” He went on to note that this legislation “is worse than the disease [campus violence].” As a result of his decision, Senator Diaz de la Portilla has been targeted by a number of NRA-affiliated groups who have, among other things, sent inflammatory and often misleading mail directly to the senator’s campaign contributors. One such message reads “Senator Portilla would rather have me be raped again than even schedule a bill.” Fortunately, Senator Diaz de la Portilla’s common sense and bravery have withstood such onslaughts. While this is good news, we cannot stop fighting the gun lobby on this issue. The NRA, ALEC, and Florida legislators are already poised to reintroduce the legislation in the next session (and, if their efforts are successful, to remove Diaz de la Portilla as an obstacle to their goals).
The United Faculty of Florida will continue to fight against this misguided guns-everywhere policy.
The fight to keep guns off of the campuses of Florida’s public colleges and universities continues into a new academic year and into a new legislative session. The guns on campus bill never made it to a House or Senate floor vote in the last legislative session; it faced overwhelming opposition from interested parties in all committee hearings. Nonetheless, its patron organization–Florida Carry, Inc.–is pushing its agenda in the courts and in the legislature. On July 14th, the First District Court of Appeals heard arguments in Florida Carry, Inc. vs. University of Florida, Case # 1D14-4614. The First District is the same court that ruled in favor of Florida Carry, Inc. in its case against the University of North Florida (2013). In that case, the justices ruled that individuals may legally have guns in their cars on campus.
Florida Carry, Inc. is also reprising its legislative agenda. Senator Greg Evers (R) and Representative Greg Steube (R) wasted no time in reintroduced their bill for the current legislative session. House Bill 4001 and its senate companion (SB 68) would, if signed into law, allow concealed weapons on Florida’s public college and university campuses (note that the bill does not affect private colleges and universities and, unlike similar bills passed in other states, this law does not provide individual campuses an opportunity to “opt out”). Senator Evers has simultaneously introduced Senate Bill 72, euphemistically titled the School Safety Bill, which would allow school superintendents to designate individuals allowed to carry concealed weapons in K-12 public schools.
Who is behind this movement?
The simple answer is the National Rifle Association (NRA). Florida Carry, Inc. claims to be “a Florida nonprofit, non-partisan, grassroots organization dedicated to advancing the fundamental civil right of all Floridians to keep and bear arms.” Though it purports independence and promotes itself as a grassroots organization, it is in reality a poorly disguised arm of the NRA and one of its primary benefactors, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). By “grassroots,” Florida Carry means created in cooperation with and with funds from the gun lobby and ALEC. Click ALEC – Campus Personal Protection Act to see sample ALEC legislation for guns on campuses.
Florida Carry, like its numerous counterparts in states across the nation (see one of its college student counterparts for example), arose in conjunction with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group that promotes right wing legislation by providing legislators with ready-made laws and talking points. The NRA, always a strong force in Republican politics, has gained even more strength in and through ALEC (serving as corporate co-chair in 2011) and as former contributors to the organization–namely major corporations–have begun to distance themselves from the organization’s extreme positions on myriad issues.
Click the following link for more information on the national movement to permit guns on campus.
Facts About Guns On Campus
Concealed weapons do not enhance security or deter crime. In school shooting scenarios, concealed weapons do not protect their owners, other students, or faculty. Rather, they contribute to the chaos. Watch this 20/20 examination of armed students responding to an attack. Note that in the most recent campus shooting in Oregon, some students were armed.
The theory that more guns = less crime (aka the John Lott Hypothesis) has been widely discredited. See the following analyses by other researchers and media outlets: Ayres and Donovan Analysis, The Washington Post, ABC News. See also Discredited gun researcher John Lott falsely claimed that guns are “banned” in South Carolina churches to blame the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on “gun-free zones.”
Hidden Costs: The presidents of the Florida State College system have estimated that it will cost upwards of $75 million to prepare 65 state college campuses for the possibility of students with concealed weapons on campus (not including the state university system).
With few exceptions, the law does not provide for campus-specific gun-free areas; armed citizens could carry a weapon into mental health centers, university-run hospitals, and non-athletic campus events.
The likelihood of students carrying concealed weapons has a censoring effect on open discussion and debate in college and university classrooms. This was noted by none other than William McRaven, the chancellor for the University of Texas system and member of the Navy SEALs who helped to plot the raid that killed Osama bin Laden). Listen to an interview with McRaven.
Misplacement/loss of weapons. Students misplace or lose backpacks, handbags, coats, and other personal items routinely on campus. When those items contain a weapon, the gravity of the situation grows exponentially.
Getting a concealed weapons permit is easy: Obtaining a concealed weapons permit requires that one legally own a gun, take a 2-3 hour one-time class, fill out a form, and pay a fee. There is no ongoing training.
It is important to note that obtaining high-quality data on gun violence is increasingly difficult due to the fact that the U.S. Congress–in an action led by congresspersons with strong backing from the NRA–the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has been banned from conducting or publishing research on gun violence: “The NRA complained to Congress that the CDC was using the results of its research to essentially advocate for gun control. They called it propaganda.” Click HERE for more on this government/NRA-sponsored censorship.
Who Opposes This Legislation
THE VAST MAJORITY OF FLORIDIANS See a recent Nielsen Poll on the issue.
The Respective Student Governments of the State Universities and the State Colleges
The United Faculty of Florida (representing faculty at SUS and SCS institution faculty)
Faculty Governance at Florida’s Universities and State Colleges
University Presidents and State College Presidents (and nationwide–see study)
The Respective Boards of Trustees of the State University System (SUS)
The Florida Board of Governors (see statement here)
Campus and Municipal Police
Former Navy Seal & UT Chancellor William McRaven (see his letter to Texas Legislature)
Committee Investigating Virginia Tech Shooting
Florida League of Women Voters
How to Advocate for Gun-Free Campuses
The UNF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida encourages all interested parties–faculty, administrators, students, parents, and community members–to join in the effort to defeat this bill. To that end, UFF has teamed up with the Coalition to Keep Guns Off Campus, the Florida League of Women Voters, and numerous other advocacy groups to fight the bill. Collectively our voices are strong and our cause is just (and supported by the facts). We ask for your help.
Ways to Get Involved:
1) Know the issues. Advocates for this law have consistently misrepresented the issues and the facts. Learn more by clicking Why Guns Do Not Belong on Campus.
2) Contact your representatives in the Florida House of Representatives, the Florida Senate, and Governor Rick Scott with your strong opposition to this bill. A wealth of evidence shows that direct contact is the best means of making an impact with lawmakers (with letters as the second-best means and email the least effective). You can find your Florida legislators and their contact information HERE.
3) Support organizations who are openly opposing the bill and who do so via lobbying in Tallahassee. These organizations include The Coalition to Keep Guns off Campus, The Florida League of Women Voters, and Students for Gun Free Schools.
4) Speak out against the bill during House and Senate committee meetings. Though each body of the legislature has tended to limit how long individuals can speak–and has set strict deadlines for when discussion will end–it is important to speak out. Try to get the media to note how the discussion went and how legislators reacted.*
5) Use the facts to voice your concerns to local media via opinion-editorials, local radio call-in shows, and try to get local reporters to cover the story. Get college newspapers to cover the issue. Follow the money: expose who is really behind this movement and why.
6) Get others involved, especially those with children enrolled in the Florida college and university system (or those whose children are likely to enter that system in the future).
Click HERE to see speakers at this summer’s Guns on Campus Summit, including, former Marine Sharpshooting Instructor and Now UCF Graduate Student Adam Whitmer speaks about the dangers of concealed weapons on campus.