Update 12:38 p.m.: The University of Florida filed a request to dismiss a gun rights group’s lawsuit against it.
The university said Florida Carry Inc. has no standing, or sufficient interest in the case’s outcome, because none of its members are affected by the university’s policy, according to a request filed Friday with the 8th Judicial Circuit Court.
The university also repeated that the amendment to its policy for guns on campus complies with Florida Carry’s recent court victory against the University of North Florida’s policy for guns in cars.
In a phone conversation with UF general counsel Jamie Lewis Keith, Florida Carry executive director Sean Caranna didn’t discuss suing the university or opposing its policy for guns in university housing, according to a sworn statement from Keith.
The dismissal request is a common step in federal cases, less so in state ones, Caranna said in an interview. His group is challenging the university’s policy on guns in cars and university-owned housing.
Both Caranna and UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes have acknowledged state law prohibiting guns on college campuses.
The heart of the case is whether university-housing counts or if it’s considered a student’s home, giving students the right to store guns in their housing, Caranna said.
“No one is holding class in their car, no one is holding class in their dorm, no one is holding class in off-campus apartments owned by the university,” he said. “Those are not part of the education environment.”
Sikes could not comment on pending litigation.
Original story: A gun rights nonprofit is suing the University of Florida and its president over policies for guns on campus.
The nonprofit, Florida Carry Inc., said UF policy violates second-amendment rights by mandating how gun owners should store guns in cars and university-owned housing, according to a complaint filed in the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court.
The lawsuit is the Port Orange-based group following through on a threat to sue public universities that didn’t change their policies by the spring semester’s start, according to the Tampa Tribune.
Prompting the change was the group’s successful suit against the University of North Florida over banning students from storing guns in vehicles. In December, an appeals court decided regulating second-amendment rights is up to the Florida Legislature, not public universities, according to the Tribune.
Other public universities, such as UNF, University of South Florida and Florida State University, got rid of their guns-in-vehicles bans or are working with Florida Carry to change their policies. UF kept its policy but added a footnote saying it would follow the recent UNF decision, according to the complaint.
This footnote isn’t good enough, Florida Carry’s executive director Sean Caranna said in a phone interview.
Its wording suggests UF allows only guns securely held in vehicles on campus, potentially banning long guns such as shotguns and rifles that can’t fit in a glove compartment, he said.
The group is going further with this lawsuit to challenge UF’s ban on guns in university-owned housing. While privately owned housing complexes can and have banned guns from apartments, universities are publicly owned and infringe on residents’ rights, Caranna said.
Targeting this new policy is a “natural evolution” from the guns-in-vehicles win, he said.
“Far too often, we see crime happening in student and faculty housing,” he said.
“This current state of regulation the university has put in place does nothing except ensure the residents of university housing are left with no effective means to defend themselves against a potential attacker.”
As of Saturday evening, the university hadn’t been served with the suit, UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said in a phone interview.
The university is complying with the recent court decision and was surprised by the group’s lawsuit, Sikes said in a statement.
“They didn’t object to the steps we have taken to comply with the court’s decision, and they never raised the issue of guns in the home, which was not the subject of the court’s decision,” she said.
Florida Carry is involved in other litigation, including a lawsuit with Citrus County, its sheriff and two sheriff’s officers.
Filed in July, the suit alleges a deputy went unpunished after he arrested a man in 2009 for carrying a gun despite the man’s concealed carry license, according to a Florida Carry release.
Misdemeanor charges against the man were dropped after video of the incident was uploaded online.