Angry students and a grieving parent unloaded Monday on Florida lawmakers who want to make it legal to carry concealed weapons on college campuses. The father of a 20-year-old University of California shooting victim warned more students would die.
Last May 23rd, six people were killed and 14 injured when 22-year-old Elliot Oliver Robinson shot up a crowded street adjacent to the Santa Barbara campus of the University of California. Robinson, who was mentally ill, took his own life.
One of the dead was 20-year-old Christopher Ross Micahels-Martinez. His father was filled with indignation Monday as he climbed the steps of the Old Capitol to protes a so-called “guns on campus” bill.
“I can’t accept that my son died in this way, it was a preventable and senseless death.”
Martinez, a 61-year-old criminal defense attorney, has been on a crusade ever since. Prevention and some grass-roots lobbying drove him to Tallahassee during the second week of the legislative session. No one can convince him that more guns are the answer to spree killings.
“It’s just a fantasy to think that a civilian is going to respond as effectively as a trained law enforcement person in these kinds of situations. And it actually makes the job of the law enforcement more difficult.”
Senate Bill 176 by Greg Evers, a Republican from Baker, bans colleges and universities from prohibiting concealed weapons on campus. If the bill passes, Florida would join 9 other states with similar laws.
Evers declined to comment.
It’s a common argument that guns don’t mix well on campuses where alcohol, drugs and depression are rampant. And Florida A&M Police Chief Terence Calloway, who joined the protest, has another concern.
“I’m worried about an environment where there’s constant suspicion. You don’t know who has a gun, whether that person has been properly trained to handle a gun, or whether a person can be trusted with a gun.”
Supporters of the legislation are sympathetic to the survivors, but see them in a different light. He says each death is a reason to allow potential victims to defend themselves.
Campus gun bans are useless because enforcement is so lax, he says.
“Guns are already there. The bad guys have them, the good guys should have them there, too.”
If gun opponents don’t believe in the deterrent effect of concealed weapons, all they have to do is ask the criminals, Friday says. In FBI surveys of prison inmates, one reason for avoiding potential targets rises to the top, Friday says.
“It’s not police officers, it’s not the eventual punishment or being caught, it’s coming across an armed victim because those armed victims fight back.”
Evers’ opponents have their work cut out for them. Evers’s bill passed his Criminal Justice Committee 3-2 last month.