While students, faculty and members of local law enforcement prepared for a candlelit vigil at the University of Florida last Friday afternoon honoring victims of two recent college campus shootings, over 800 miles away at Texas Southern University, shots rang out.
According to Everytownresearch.org, there have been 23 shootings on a college or university campus in 2015 alone.
The non-partisan organization classifies a school shooting as “anytime a firearm is discharged inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds, as documented by the press and confirmed through further inquiries with law enforcement.”
The shooting does not have to be deadly to make Everytown’s list, but many of them are.
Now, Florida could be making way for more firearms to be added to the mix.
If state House Bill 4001 passes, a provision prohibiting a person with a concealed carry license from legally bringing a handgun or firearm onto a college or university facility will be removed. Florida would join eight other states that allow concealed weapons on public college and university campuses if this bill and its companion in the Senate are passed.
As of September 16 of this year, FL HB 4001 is being reviewed by the Higher Education and Workforce Subcommittee.
Some students at the University of Florida would not like to see the bill pass.
Last Friday afternoon in Turlington Plaza, students stood in a circle, holding candles and reflecting on the Umpqua Community College and Northern Arizona University school shootings that had occurred recently. Jason Feliciano, a UF senior, said he hoped that the vigil would do more than show solidarity to the two affected schools.
“I hope it allows our students, especially our students in student government, to lobby against the legislation that’s going on in the state of Florida right now that would promote guns being on campus and allowing students to carry guns on campus,” he said.
Feliciano studied abroad in South Korea this past summer and said he felt safer there than he does in the United States.
“No one carries guns in South Korea…I’m kind of having like reverse culture shock because I went from being in a country that was extremely safe all the time no matter where I went and coming back to a place where when my friends say ‘text me when you’re home’ they mean it,” he said.
Feliciano is not alone.
According to a USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey taken over the summer, 73 percent of Floridians oppose allowing students with concealed-weapons permits to carry guns on campus.
While some students believe allowing people to carry guns on campus would lead to chaos, others believe it will have no effect on school shootings.
“It’s your right to carry a gun…if it’s going to happen it will happen whether or not the legislation passes, said Doug Shapiro, a freshman.
Connor Tilghman, a junior, said he thinks that having a concealed carry license should be enough to allow guns on college campuses.
“If you go through the trouble of getting a concealed carry, you shouldn’t be committing a crime,” Tilghman said.
As students and faculty put their candles away and got ready to resume with their day after the vigil last Friday afternoon–before the news of another college campus shooting broke–community and service director for UF Student Government, Courtnie Moodie, thanked everyone for coming out and had these parting words:
“The residents of Roseburg are part of the Gator Nation today. This could have easily been UF so don’t let these shootings become the norm.”