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League of Women Voters joins Florida’s university presidents to oppose guns on campus

Florida League of Women Voters announcement Wednesday finds the group linked with strange bedfellows such as University of Florida’s W. Kent Fuchs and, stranger still, John Thrasher of Florida State University in an effort to prevent overturning a state law that outlaws firearms on college campuses.

In light of Monday’s shooting at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach — and with wounds from November’s incident at the Strozier Library at FSU still fresh in Tallahassee — the LWV is stepping up its opposition to Rep. Greg Steube‘s HB 4005, which would allow those with “concealed-carry” permits to possess guns on campus, as well as Sen. Greg Evers‘s companion bill, SB 176, which was approved by a 3-2 vote two weeks ago in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

“It is striking that unanimously, every one of Florida’s university presidents and campus law enforcement agencies oppose the bill making its way through the Legislature, overturning the current ban,” League President Deirdre Macnab said in a statement.

The League — always heavily active in good-government and procedural initiatives, most notably its recent challenges to the new districts the Legislature drew for itself in 2011 — criticized the efforts to liberalize gun laws on campus primarily for safety reasons, but also pointed out that other states with powerful zealous gun lobbies and fiscal conservative hawks have not been able to please both with these kinds of measures.

“‘Concealed-carry’ on college campuses is prohibited in 41 states. In some cases by law, in others, by university policy,” said League Gun Safety Chairwoman Patti Brigham. “In Texas, where similar legislation is pending, it has been estimated that the economic impact of campus carry (on the University of Texas and University of Houston systems) could reach nearly $47 million over six years. Imagine what the cost would be in Florida where the University of Central Florida has some 60,000 students.”

Steube’s bill was approved 8-4 in House Criminal Justice in January, but hasn’t been taken up by Higher Education & Workforce, the bill’s next stop.

Written By

Ryan Ray covers politics and public policy in North Florida and across the state. He has also worked as a legislative researcher and political campaign staffer. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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