Rep. Anthony Sabatini filed a bill Monday that would allow people with a concealed firearm license to carry a weapon onto Florida colleges and universities.
The measure, HB 6001, seeks to delete a provision that restricts permit holders from carrying a firearm on campus grounds. Florida’s current statute limits registered students and faculty to carrying stun guns and non-lethal electric weapons on campus.
“The current prohibition of the concealed carry of a firearm makes campuses LESS safe and violates the spirit of the Second Amendment,” the Howey-in-the-Hills Republican tweeted.
Notably, this is not Sabatini’s first crack at the proposal. He filed a similar campus carry bill in both the 2019 and 2020 Legislative Sessions, though neither pitch received a hearing.
The 2021 Legislative Session starts in March.
Campus carry proposals have drawn stiff opposition from activists and university leaders nationwide. On the other hand, gun rights activists and interest groups such as the NRA have galvanized sizable support around the issue.
Campus carry proponents argue that students should maintain the right to self-defense while on campus. Some also contend that licensed weapon holders could play a role in stopping a mass shooting.
Contrarily, critics say guns on campus could escalate violence, disrupt the learning environment and even hinder police response.
“How many mass shootings must we witness before we allow law-abiding citizens to defend themselves?” Sabatini wrote on Facebook in 2019. “Why do we strip Florida citizens of their rights without a shred of evidence that doing so makes us safer?”
The measure would take effect on July 1, 2021, if signed into law.
Florida has issued more than 2.19 million concealed-weapons licenses, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Florida is one of only four states with more than 1 million permit holders. The others are Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
Florida’s gun laws went under the microscope in 2018 when a student opened fire on classmates with a semi-automatic rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, killing 17.
While several law changes were made after the incident including raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21, the Giffords Law Center and other gun violence groups have called for more changes.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only 10 states allow concealed weapons onto college campuses.