Florida State Student Fights Concealed Carry Rules On Game Day

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Florida State University student Rebekah Hargrove just wanted to keep her concealed weapon in her locked and parked car during the home football game against Texas State last Saturday. When FSU said Hargrove, president of Students For Concealed Carry FSU, would be violating the campus’s gun policy – she contacted Florida Carry, Inc.

Now Florida Carry, Inc. says FSU’s individual firearm policy violates state law. The group has filed an injunction against FSU President John Thrasher, asking him to follow a state law made in 2013 that allows students to have permitted guns in parked cars during game days, as well as during regular weekdays when class is in session on university and college campuses.

One day after the lawsuit was filed, FSU revised its firearms-in-cars at games policy. Sports fans can now keep guns in their cars on campus if they have a concealed carry permit.

FSU attributed the quick change in stance to aligning its policy with the 2013 lawsuit ruling from Florida Carry, Inc. versus University of North Florida. That case ended  with a Florida First District Court of Appeal ruling allowing guns with concealed carry permits in locked cars on public college campuses statewide.

Yet, anyone parking on the University of Florida or Santa Fe College campus can already legally have permitted firearms locked in their cars.

UF changed its gun policy to reflect the state law in January 2014. UF maintains that guns can be banned from university events, such as in football games, but not from vehicles on campus.

UF first-year student, Annie Alderman, was living in the Murphree housing area of campus when a shooting occurred in the parking lot of the residence hall on July 27. She says guns should not be allowed on campus, but understands a university setting is harder to control.

“The people involved in the shooting this summer weren’t associated with the university; they just happened to park on campus,” Alderman said.

Florida Carry, Inc. has decided to continue the lawsuit against FSU on the basis that gun owners shouldn’t need a permit to leave their weapons in cars.

Jacksonville Attorney Lesley McKinney for Florida Carry, Inc. said the injunction against FSU President Thrasher is not meant to change current policy, just to remind the university of what is already in place from two years ago.

“Here’s the statutes. Here’s what the court said. Abide by it,” McKinney said.

She went on to say for Hargrove that, “anytime anyone is denied a constitutional right, there is damage.”

McKinney explained the injunction is simply there to ask FSU not to enforce its individual policy until a resolution has been made in this case.

Even though FSU will allow concealed-carry holders to have guns in their cars on the next game day, McKinney said any public university can’t lawfully make its own policies regarding firearm possession, and that the school’s “FSU Game Day Plan 2015” is still not in compliance with the 2013 lawsuit or the legislation preemption of firearms.

UF has no such game day plan document and does not reference firearms in vehicles in its fan-conduct web pages. UF does, however, still ban weapons from inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

A campus carry bill, filed for the 2015 legislative session that would have allowed students to carry firearms on college campuses, stalled in the Florida Senate’s judiciary committee. Sponsors Sen. Greg Evers and Rep. Greg Steube refiled the bill for the upcoming 2016 legislative session.

It has been scheduled for discussion during the first week of interim committee meetings, which begin next week.

About Caitie Switalski

Caitie is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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