Two controversial gun bills passed through the first round of committees this week on their way to a Florida Senate vote: the right to carry concealed weapons on college campuses and the right to openly carry anywhere concealed carry is allowed.
The campus carry bill passed the Senate Higher Education Committee by a 5-3 vote. Supporters argue it would make students, professors and staff members safer by allowing them to defend themselves. Meanwhile, opponents said it would create a more dangerous environment and cost colleges tens of millions of dollars.
Michael Brawer, CEO of the Association of Florida Colleges, said it would cost $74 million to increase security on Florida’s 28 colleges since only five currently have armed security or campus police — USF is among this number.
Currently, 20 states ban concealed weapons on all college campuses while 23 allow each university to decide its own policy, according to the Miami Herald.
The open carry bill was presented to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and passed with a 3- 2 vote. While critics say it would invoke fear rather than protection, supporters argue it only strengthens Second Amendment rights.
Currently, Florida law requires individuals to be 21 years old to get a concealed carry permit and does not allow open carry of handguns at all. According to the Herald, 1.4 million Floridians have concealed weapon permits with more than 300,000 in South Florida.
Both bills have another two committees to go through before reaching the Senate floor for a final vote.