Local Professor Testifies Against Campus Concealed Gun Law
A House subcommittee has approved a bill that would allow guns on college campuses in Florida.
If legislators pass the bill during the upcoming session, it will repeal a state law that prevents concealed-carry permit holders from bringing their guns on college campuses and universities around Florida.
Marjorie Sanfilippo, a psychology professor at Eckerd College, testified before the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. She believes the rates of psychological disorders in college-age students may lead to trouble for students who have access to concealed weapons.
"The underdeveloped frontal lobe is what causes them to act impulsively, especially in an emotionally-charged situation," she said. "If you add a gun to that mix, then it's going to make the everyday situation that much more emotionally ... charged."
Although her child attends a private college which would not be affected by the bill, Sanfilippo has friends and family members whose children attend public universities. She argues that requiring Florida public universities to comply with the measure will make campuses more dangerous. "To imagine that the administrators would have their hands tied and not be able to make rules they think will keep their campus safe is appalling to me."
Many supporters of the bill believe it will allow students and faculty to defend themselves if a shooter is on campus.
The legislation (HB 4005) was filed by Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota. Steube cited the shooting on Florida State University's campus as a reason students should be allowed to carry concealed weapons.
"I think it [the attack] brings it closer to home for people who think these events don't occur in Florida, or that law enforcement can prevent them from happening," Steube told the Florida News Service in December.
Steube did not respond to messages left early Tuesday morning and afternoon asking for comment before the subcommittee meeting.
In all 50 states, U.S. citizens are allowed to carry concealed weapons as long as they meet certain requirements. According to a March 2014 overview from the National Conference of State Legislatures, Florida is among 20 states that ban carrying a concealed weapon on college campuses.
Although those carrying guns would have to be at least 21 years or older to have a concealed weapons license, Sanfilippo said it is still unsettling for faculty to know many students could be carrying guns.
"Another provision of the bill is that concealed carry is not permitted in legislative hearing," Sanfilippo said. "So I find it very interesting that they are able to step the law up so ... that they are safe doing their jobs, but I am not safe doing mine."