Oregon shooting brings Florida’s “Guns on Campus” debate to forefront

SARASOTA, Fla. — Thursday’s mass shooting in Oregon rekindled concern for campus safety and conversations about Florida’s “guns on campus” debate.

We asked students on the campus of New College of Florida if they would want the right to carry a gun. The ones we spoke to said they feel safe already, and worry that allowing guns on campus would jeopardize safety.

“I do not think it’s a good idea. that would make me feel very unsafe if more people had guns on campus,” said one New College student.

“I wouldn’t be comfortable with students on this campus or any college campus having firearms,” said another. “Because I think there’s a really strong risk of people operating them or just messing around with them while not sober. I think it’s a huge safety risk.”

State Representative Greg Steube (R-Bradenton) argues that it’s a student’s right to have a weapon on campus, and he says that Second Amendment right is crucial in preventing school shootings.

“America’s based on the freedom to be able to defend yourself, to defend others, and the inherent right to self defense; and for some reason, we have stripped that right as you enter a college campus,” said Steube.

Steube says the incident in Oregon only “adds an exclamation point” to his argument, but Curt Lavarello of the School Safety Advocacy Council says the bill would only perpetuate the problem.

“We know one thing,” said Lavarello, “we’re not going to reduce school gun violence by bringing more guns.”

He says it’s instead important to focus our efforts on things like access to mental health treatment, as well as catching any red flags early on. He also says allowing guns on campuses may make it difficult for law enforcement to quickly identify the good guy and bad guy in the situation.

“The dynamics of a school shooting are very difficult already,” said Lavarello. “I can’t imagine being a police officer and having to respond to a school where the report is ‘there’s one bad armed person and 20 good armed people’ and then having to make a split second decision.”

But Steube argues that’s a daily aspect of law enforcement’s job.

“They do it everywhere else,” he said. “In our state malls, shopping plazas, restaurants, so if they’re trained to a handle a situation there, why can’t they handle it on a college campus?”\

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