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OPINION: Permitless guns could be dangerous for USF


House Bill 543 is dangerous as it would allow untrained citizens to walk around campus with a concealed gun. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/FLICKR

House Bill (HB) 543, or the “Permitless Carry Bill,” was proposed on Jan. 30. It would allow citizens of Florida to carry concealed guns on them without a permit or training.

Enacting this bill now has the potential to be very dangerous. In a time where gun violence and school shootings are major issues, the last thing anyone at USF should want is less restrictions on gun rights.

This bill would make Florida the 26th state to allow permitless carry options for firearms, according to a Jan. 13 NBC News article.

“There’s people in other countries that don’t have to live with that fear of going into crowded spaces thinking that it’s their last time there. I think people shouldn’t have that,” USF criminology major Stephanie Herrera said in a Feb. 9 Oracle column.

Gun violence caused over 44,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2022, according to the Gun Violence Archive

States that have cut back restrictions on owning firearms suffered an 11% increase in handgun homicides, and a 13-15% increase in violent crimes, according to a 2020 study from the nonprofit organization Everytown for Gun Safety

In fairness, a Feb. 9 update from The Florida Senate claimed The Office of Safe Schools would be developing a “behavioral threat management operational process,” that would look over students who pose a severe threat, which does provide some hope.

Several laws set within the 2022 Florida Statutes will still be continued. Most notably, in order to have a gun one must be a permanent US resident, 21 years or older and haven’t committed a felony. These rules will stay, according to a Feb. 6 Politifact article, and a Feb. 7 Tampa Bay Times article.

Unfortunately, the new bill would still remove the necessity for background checks for private dealers. Purchasers will also no longer need to “demonstrate competency with a firearm or affirm that the weapon is for self-defense,” according to Politifact. 

Removing the ability to prove a firearm owner is responsible enough to own one will make gun violence, on or off campus, more common.

Preventing convicted felons from owning firearms is also not enough to end gun violence. Just because someone hasn’t yet committed a crime doesn’t ensure that they won’t commit a crime in the future. With the rise of hate-related gun crimes like the Buffalo or Colorado Springs shooting, the possibility of someone using their weapons for insidious desires should always be in serious consideration.

Despite USF students’ objections, it isn’t their right to decide whether or not HB 543 gets passed. That honor instead goes to the House Judiciary Committee, according to a Feb. 7 Florida Politics article.

Given the results of other states that allow permitless carry guns, coupled with the changes that will go into effect if the bill is passed, H.B. 543 shouldn’t move forward for the safety of both the USF community and the state of Florida.