Advocates working to bring campus carry to Sunshine State colleges

Gun rights group encourages Floridians to support self defense bill that would permit licensed concealed carry holders to carry concealed firearms at the state???s 135 colleges.

???Too many lives have been lost because of the illusion of safety and security associated with gun-free zones,??? said Sean Caranna, executive director of Florida Carry Inc., a grassroots organization dedicated to advancing the fundamental civil right of all Floridians to keep and bear arms. ???Where colleges have allowed concealed carry, there has not been a single mass shooting.???

After a string of alleged sexual assaults in and around the University of Florida in Gainesville over the summer; and the November shooting at Florida State University in Tallahassee ??? legislators are compelled to act, said Caranna. ???Frankly, we have had enough.???

Fla. House Bill 4005, sponsored by state Rep. W. Gregory “Greg” Steube and Fla. Senate Bill 176, sponsored by state Sen. Robert Gregory ???Greg??? Evers, were each respectively filed at Tallahassee earlier this month, he said. The companion bills seek to amend the states??? Licenses to Carry Concealed Weapons or Firearms law by deleting the provision that prohibits concealed carry licensees from openly carrying a handgun or carrying a concealed firearm into college or university facilities.

State laws and licensing provisions would remain in effect; such as 21-and-over age requirements, state and federal background checks, receipt of licensing fees, and proof of firearm safety training, said Caranna. ???Removing Florida colleges from the prohibited places list will simply allow licensees to conceal carry on campus.???

The shooting that occurred at FSU Strozier Library that left three people injured, including one critically, could have been avoided or at least damage minimized if licensed concealed carry holders had the opportunity to be armed on campus, he said. ???There is a high probability that in the first few shots the shooter could have been stopped by a Veteran who is extremely well-trained and qualified.???

Nathan Scott, who is a member of Students for Conceal Carry and was employed at the library, was shot in the leg in the incident, he said. ???Scott served two tours in Afghanistan as an Army Infantryman and is an expert marksman in rifle and pistol ??? this is exactly the kind of guy who should be allowed to carry.???

This is an individual who fought overseas defending himself, certainly he ought to be able to defend himself or others at a college campus, said Caranna.

???Scott had a clear shot at the attacker, but because of the prohibition on campus carry, was not allowed to conceal carry,??? he said. ???It took law enforcement five to seven minutes to respond, which is excellent response time, but five minutes feels like an eternity in a violent situation.??? Upon arrival, the shooter was shot and killed by police.

???U.S. Department of Education statistics tell us that year after year our defenseless students become victims of violent crime five days a week on average on Florida college or university campuses,??? he said.

On campus or off campus housing, including during holiday and over the summer, Caranna said students are not allowed to possess or carry a firearm. ???Recognizing that gun-free zones only disarm those who would obey the law, students are resorting to whatever tools are available for self defense.???

In response to the sexual attacks near UF ??? in which the attacker or attackers have yet to be found ??? he said Floridians went out and purchased tasers until all of the tasers in the area were sold-out. The problem is legally sold tasers in Florida are unlikely to incapacitate an attacker, he said.

???The only kind of taser one can carry on campus is the old-type ??? they have non-taser darts,??? he said. ???If someone came at you, you are not going to employ a non-taser dart for maximum impact.??? The best protection against violence is a legally carried firearm, he said.

???This parade in opposition that we are going to have alcohol- induced students waiving guns around has no evidence of truth,??? said Caranna, who in 2012 was the recipient of the Second Amendment Foundation???s Defender of Liberty Award. ???Conceal carry holders are the most law abiding segment of society.???

Out of the over 2.3 million Florida licenses issued since conceal carry became legal in 1987, he said. Only 168 licenses have been revoked for a crime involving a firearm. ???That comes out to about 0.006 percent.???

Florida Carry encourages its members to contact their representatives in the state legislature to request they pass this important legislation that he said will more likely than not prevent or stymie violent crime. ???Gun-free zones at college campuses do not deter criminals,??? he said. ???It instead creates a magnet for criminal activity.???