Florida groups looks to enforce laws that say students have the right to carry gun


By Marianela Toledo | Florida Watchdog

MIAMI — Public Universities and Community College in Florida, will need soon to allow students, professor and personnel to keep guns in parked vehicles on campus. If not, they can expect to face consequences.

Following the December decision where the appellate court ruled that public university students have the right to pack heat on campus, an organization dedicated to upholding the 2nd amendment decided to now wants to bring the custom into practice.

FIREARMS ALLOWED: Public Universities will now have to allow students, personal, and teachers to keep guns in parked vehicles in its campus.

On the 10th of January, Florida Carry initiated a new lawsuit challenging the University of Florida’s illegal ban on firearms in cars and homes on the grounds that it does not comply with the December ruling giving students the right to bring their gun to school.

“We will continue with the steps to ensure compliance with this law,” said Eric Friday, a lawyer and director of the Southeastern division of Florida Carry, a group that works toward repealing and striking down gun control laws throughout the state.

Meanwhile the University of Florida, believes there is nothing new to comply with law.

“To be very clear, UF is fully complying with Florida law that bans guns on school and university campuses, including in residence halls,” told to Watchdog.org, Janine Sikes Assistant Vice President Media Relations and Public Affairs University of Florida.

“UF is also fully complying with the 1st DCA (First District Court of Appeals) ruling that allows individuals 18 years or older to securely store guns in vehicles on campus.”, Sikes said.

Sikes also said they have not been served with the lawsuit, yet.

But Eric Friday does’t believe that, and Florida Carry initiated a lawsuit against them.

“They are failing to comply with the court decision on the Florida Carry vs UNF.”

Friday is referring to a previous lawsuit, which was initiated by Florida Carry against the University of North Florida. On December 10th a court ruled that a university has no right to restrict students from possessing a firearm, and only the state legislature ultimately holds the power to regulate guns, trumping local governments and universities.

All started with Alexandria Lainez, a full-time student at UNF, and a single mother who had received extensive training in firearms and self -defense. Lainez was worried that she would have to choose between her family’s safety and an education while attending college.

According to the lawsuit, Lainez was threatened with expulsion and arrest for her decision to keep a firearm in her car while attending class.

So last December, after the appeals court ruled that the University of North Florida was violating state law in prohibiting Lainez from keeping a gun in her vehicle while attending classes.

The December resolution was the last of a long battle between Florida Carry and the UNF.

The lawsuit was filed originally in 2011. In 2012 Circuit Court Judge Lawrence P. Haddock signed the defense’s suggested draft order denying the injunction and then dismissing the case. Florida Carry appealed that decision, and won last December.

University of North Florida authorities did not respond to our request for an interview. But BizPac Review, an online news and opinion website, said that “the university is still reviewing its options on whether to appeal the case.”

UNF Associate Director for Public Relations Joanna Norris wrote in an emailed statement, “Until it (the university) makes that decision, the university’s policy prohibiting weapons on campus will remain in effect.”

The court measure will affect Florida 12 public universities and 28 community colleges.

Other universities are getting ready for the change

Grant J. Heston associate vice president for communications and public affairs for the University of Central Florida responded to watchdog.org that “UCF will change its policy to comply with the recent court ruling. Exact policy language is being developed”, Heston said.

University of South Florida is following same steps.

“USF placed policy 6-009 ‘Weapons on USF System Property’ under review shortly after. As of 1-3-14, the policy has been amended to comply with Florida statutes. Additional amendments were made on 1-6-14 and the policy remains under review,” said Adam Freeman University of South Florida Media/Public Affairs Coordinator.

The USF updated policy can be found by clicking here.

“People need to know that there is a fundamental right protected by the constitution. Neither governments nor the schools have the right to deny the Second Amendment,” said Friday.

According to Florida Carry, since 1985 it has been legal for adults to keep firearms in their vehicles, even without obtaining a permit from the college.

Contact Marianela Toledo at Marianela.Toledo@FloridaWatchdog.org or on Twitter @mtoledoreporter

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