Court to consider guns in school dormitories

BY JIM SAUNDERS
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

TALLAHASSEE – After a high-profile legislative debate this spring about concealed weapons on college campuses, a state appeals court will hear arguments in a dispute about whether guns should be allowed in residence halls and other housing at the University of Florida.

On July 14, the First District Court of Appeal is scheduled to hear an appeal filed by Florida Carry Inc., which says people have a legal right to possess firearms in their homes, including in university housing.

An Alachua County circuit judge last year sided with the University of Florida in rejecting the group’s arguments in the case.

In court briefs, Florida Carry cited a state law that seeks to ensure people can have firearms in their homes, and to the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment. It said the state law about guns in homes supersedes another law that generally bars guns at schools and colleges.

UF disagrees
However, the University of Florida disputes that the federal or state constitutions guarantee the right to have firearms in university housing.

“The Florida Legislature has struck a balance between preserving the right to bear arms for self-defense and protecting the safety and peace of mind of Florida citizens,” the university’s attorney, Barry Richard, wrote in a brief filed in March. “In service of the latter interest, Florida law has long designated certain sensitive areas, including school and university campuses, as largely gun-free zones.”

The appeals court arguments come after a closely-watched legislative debate this spring about whether people with concealed weapons licenses should be allowed to carry guns on college and university campuses. The proposal stalled in a Senate committee, but the National Rifle Association has already signaled the issue will come back during the 2016 legislative session.

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