A bill that would allow campus students in Florida to carry a concealed weapon was passed by the House Criminal Justice Committee by a vote of 8-4 this week.
The bill -- HB 4005 -- written by Rep. Greg Steube for the State Legislature, says that allowing college students to carry guns can prevent mass shootings. Technically, it would repeal an already existing provision that prohibits people with concealed weapons to carry guns onto a college campus in the state.
The bill, which is backed by the NRA, takes aim at the familiar NRA narrative that the solution to shootings is more guns. Steube is looking to deter campus shootings and tragedies like Virginia Tech in 2007 or the recent incident at Florida State University in November by allowing people to be armed on campuses. He insists the concealed weapons would be more for people who are trained to use them and not so much the students.
"We're really not talking about students. We're talking about folks who have gone through the training, more faculty, staff," he recently told MyFox in Orlando.
How that would be enforced remains unclear, but the aim here is to have more firearms where firearms generally shouldn't be.
For now, Florida has provisions set in place that prohibit the carrying of guns on college and university campuses -- concealed or otherwise.
Moreover, the state leaves it in the hands of the boards of trustees at community colleges to put in restrictions on access to guns on their campuses.
State university boards of trustees have been granted the same authority via the guidelines of the Board of Governors of the State University System.
But the HB 4005 bill would pretty much make it a near free-for-all for concealed weapons on college and university campuses in the state.
And according to data, that's not a good thing.
The Journal of American College Heath says gun threats are at a higher clip at campuses that allow concealed weapons than those that do not.
"[Our] findings also suggest that students who report having guns at college disproportionately engage in behaviors that put themselves and others at risk for injury," part of the study reads.
The Harvard Injury Control Research Center also found that there are higher homicide rates on college campuses where there is a high rate of gun ownership.
Yet Florida is a mere few steps away from allowing more guns on campuses.
If the bill is passed, Florida will be the eighth state to permit concealed guns on college and university campuses.
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