School shooting spurs push for guns on campus in Florida

Advocates say armed students can prevent violence

A new bill in the Florida state legislature would allow students with concealed carry permits to possess firearms on campus, which advocates say will make students safer.

The Florida bill was introduced by Rep. Gregory Steube (R), and was inspired by a letter he received from the advocacy group Students for Concealed Carry FSU (SCC) following a shooting at Florida State University (FSU) last month.

Background story: Police kill gunman after he opens fire in FSU library, injures 3 students

The group argues that two students—an anonymous army veteran and an SCC member—would have been in a positon to stop last month's shooter if they had been allowed to carry weapons. The SCC member, Nathan Scott, was one of three FSU students injured in the shooting. Erek Culbreath, president of SCC at FSU, speaking of the veteran, says "he had a clear shot at the shooter but wasn’t able to carry his firearm."

Culbreath says he is "overwhelmed with the amount of support we are getting from our students, from across the state, and even from the faculty," in regards to the legislation.

Guns not the norm

Currently, the only state with a law that prohibits public universities from banning concealed firearms is Utah, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Twenty states have laws which require public universities to ban firearms.

Steube says the shooting at FSU makes it more likely his legislation will pass. "I think it [the attack] brings it closer to home for people who think these events don’t occur in Florida, or that law enforcement can prevent them from happening," he says.

The push to bring firearms onto more campuses has support in other parts of the country as well. The student government of Texas A&M University (A&M) recently passed an act requesting students be allowed to carry concealed weapons.

"Institutions of higher education should not be an exception to the constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense and public safety," says A&M study body president Kyle Kelly (Decarr, Education News, 12/16; Cook, The News-Press/USA Today, 12/10; Byrd, Washington Free Beacon, 12/11).

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