OneJax/UNF forum on gun control timely, tense


It’s presented as the next program in the OneJax Institute’s “Civil Discourse” series.

But an upcoming forum on the UNF campus called Gun Control: A Loaded Topic, could get a bit heated.

The free event, moderated by UNF president and former Jacksonville mayor John Delaney, will feature both supporters and opponents of the so-called “campus carry” bills moving through the Florida House and Senate.

Senate Bill 68 and House Bill 4001 would allow people aged 21 and older with concealed weapon permits to bring their firearms on public college and university campuses.

In the wake of the mass shooting last week at an Oregon community college, emotions are running even higher than usual around the issue.

Delaney has gone on record as opposing the legislation. He’s joined by Florida State University President John Thrasher, a former senator who says his views on the issue changed after a tragic frat house shooting on the FSU campus that killed the daughter of a close family friend.

While campus groups and university presidents oppose the bills, influential lobbying organizations like the NRA, Florida Carry and Students for Concealed Carry are backing them.

The One Jax forum will feature NRA representative Cord Byrd and Florida Carry spokesperson Eric Friday.

And on the opposing side, noted Jacksonville criminal trial lawyer Bill Sheppard, and former Jacksonville Jaguar offensive lineman Richard Collier (paralyzed after being shot fourteen times).


Melissa Ross

In addition to her work writing for Florida Politics, Melissa Ross also hosts and produces WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). First Coast Connect was also recognized in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital. During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications. She can be reached at [email protected].


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