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Stricter gun regulations needed to prevent tragedy

Published: Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 03:01


Firearms cannot be carried openly on campus, but after a recent policy change at USF, it is now permissible to leave a gun in one’s car.

This decision brings much debate, but after a recent shooting at a Wesley Chapel movie theater, the policy should be reconsidered in order to avoid more conflict.

When Tampa resident Chad Oulson and his wife went to the Cobb Grove 16 Theatre to watch “Lone Survivor,” Oulson began to text his sick three-year-old daughter’s babysitter during the film. Retired Tampa Police captain Curtis Reeves, Jr. complained to Oulson and, according to Reeves, though contrary to objections by spectators, he was then struck in the face with an “unknown object” which was never found during the investigation. Reeves then allegedly shot Oulson with a concealed weapon, killing him and wounding his wife with the same bullet. 

The Cobb Theatre chain has a strict, zero tolerance weapons policy concerning guns and knives in their theaters. Reeves, though possessing a permit for his concealed weapon, did not abide by the theater’s policy. Thus, this could be indicative of the possible risk posed with guns allowed on campus. 

Allowing guns to be kept in cars may be too tempting for some to keep them from carrying their firearms on campus.

USF’s policy cites that firearms are not allowed on campus, unless any Florida law provides for it. 

But, after a lawsuit was taken up against the University of North Florida in 2011, it became lawful for firearms to be stowed in cars at universities. A recent push for USF to cooperate with the law has caused the university to update its policy. 

College students are challenged throughout the semester, and come under immense stress. 

The patience of a retired police captain going to watch a Mark Wahlberg movie was lost way too easily, and he overreacted. The heft students carry throughout the year can cause unpredictable behavior, and the possibilities created when a gun is added to the equation can be very dangerous. If something as simple as texting in a movie theater was enough to incite murder, countless everyday activities at USF could send the right student over the wrong cliff.

The Second Amendment allows for the right to bear arms, which is not to be infringed. 

However, more shootings have occurred, from the shooting at Purdue University on Tuesday between two teaching assistants and the recent spree in the USF community to the occurrence at the Wesley Chapel theater. Laws calling for strict gun control will never completely end all violent shootings, but that is no reason to avoid striving to reform the laws currently in place to create a safer environment for students.


Eric Heubusch is a freshman majoring in mass communications.

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Thu Jan 23 2014 01:21
Mr. Heubusch,

You seem to be misunderstanding the facts at hand. Throughout your article, you imply that the USF, or any university or college can simply ignore the court order. As executive director of the organization which was co-plaintiff in Lainez v. University of North Florida, I can assure you that the University's policy change is simply a formality.

§790.115 Florida Statutes states firearms are prohibited from campus, except those stored in vehicles in accordance with §790.25(5) Florida Statues. There is but a single waiver to this statute, restricted to use by school districts. School districts are statutorily defined in part as responsible for providing a free education to students in the county. As the University doesn't provide a free education to students in the county, nor any of the other elements in the statutory definition of a school district, it is not a school district and therefore doesn't qualify to use the waiver provision. Nonetheless, this is what virtually every public postsecondary education schools did, and what the plaintiff initially claimed in their case.

The Florida First District Court of Appeal contained two very important decisions. First, that universities and colleges were not, in fact, school districts and therefore were not authorized by the Legislature to claim use of the waiver. The second was that only the Legislature is authorized to regulate firearms according to Article I, Section 8 of the Florida Constitution and the Legislative preemption of firearms rules, regulations, or ordinances in §790.33 applied to public universities and colleges. With this ruling in hand, and no appeal from the plaintiff to the Florida Supreme Court pending, the order of the court became final week of December 2013.

So you see, the public universities and colleges must comply with the law, or be held in contempt of court and subject to the filing of additional lawsuits by Florida Carry.

Richard Nascak
Executive Director
Florida Carry, Inc.

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