For its first bill of the term, the Republican-majority Florida House of Representatives decided to tackle a rather contentious issue.
The bill, named HB 4005, would allow people with the appropriate licenses to concealed carry their guns in public school college campuses. In light of the recent Florida State University (FSU) shooting, which left three students injured, this bill would represent a marked shift in the environments at the schools it affects.
Although passed by the House, the Senate and the governor’s office still need to approve the bill before it can become law. This gives us time to consider the benefits and drawbacks of such a measure.
Perhaps more obvious are the potential problems that concealed carry weapons can cause.
College is a time of many firsts. These experiences can lead students to make mistakes that they probably wouldn’t have made otherwise. The stress of full course loads and new relationships already brings friction to students’ lives, not taking into account the constant exposure to drugs and alcohol.
College students have already earned a reputation for being reckless. With the ability to carry a gun on campus, mistakes that are so common during this time in our lives could balloon into serious (or even fatal) crimes.
This bill has the potential to foster fear among college students as well. By the very nature of concealed weapons, it is impossible to know whether someone is carrying a gun. This could cause students to be distracted by the possibility that anyone around them could use a weapon at any time.
However, allowing concealed carry weapons on campus could have benefits. The specific justification used to promote this bill was safety. Many people feel safer when they have the ability to defend themselves.
Additionally, it could be a crime deterrent. College students sometimes present an attractive target to criminals. If it is impossible for a criminal to know which individuals carry weapons, they would be less likely to target anyone in that population.
This bill would also only cover a subset of all people who own guns. To receive a concealed weapons permit, an individual must undergo background checks and a 90-day waiting period. They must also be 21 years of age or older, meaning the overlap between them and the stereotypical student is not as large as it may appear.
Though the bill only applies to public universities, students at UM could still be affected. Whichever final policy is chosen would be felt any time students visit any public Florida school. As a result, students should practice their civic duty and play a part in this discussion.
Whether or not you agree with the bill, participate in discussions and send letters to county representatives. If there is one time to get involved and avoid apathy, it’s this one.
This issue is not black and white. The discussion must extend to the larger student body to reach a consensus that best serves the students as we navigate our college careers.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.