By Kate Sims
Legislation to allow the public display of over 1.5 million currently concealed handguns by licensed Floridians passed in the House of Representatives with almost no resistance, reported the Tampa Bay Times on Feb 4. It has been predicted that the Senate will be more reluctant, considering politics is a figurative blood bath. Politicians can flash their cute charts and statistics around the debate floor all they want, but each of those statistics was once a human being whose life was lost to gun violence. Personally, I see this bill as a waste of time and resources.
For instance, in my home state of Texas, there is an uproar over the new restrictions set on long-time carriers in the form of legal signs. These signs act as a directive against open carry on private property and other sanctioned facilities.
It’s apparently backfiring, which doesn’t surprise me for two reasons. First, I still firmly stand by the idea that additive legislation is only effective on those who already cooperate with the law. If this is supposed to decrease the amount of legal violations of “good ole boys” carrying their firearms, and save on tax money, boy do I feel safe. The ones who operate outside the law are the cause of the gun hate. I would also like to say I am not an anti-gun person–my father raised me to see them as tools for self defense, not as toys or accessories for the world to see. But very few carriers are raised to respect weapons, and that scares me.
Secondly, I find myself wondering if this legislation is intended to fuel the public into being so anti-gun that they are taken away for good. Moving away from theory to practice, as students of a private institution, we have an upper hand.
In the University of Tampa’s Code of Conduct, in Article 12, all weapons are banned from campus, including concealed in a vehicle. The only exceptions include chemical protection specialized for defense only (mace), police officials, Campus Security, and ROTC can have weapons on the private property. I don’t really see the on campus bill changing that since it hasn’t really affected the 45 states that have already approved it.
My concern is the public spaces: Ybor, HCC, USF, Franklin Street, the malls, Curtis Hixon Park. I will reiterate I don’t see the responsible concealed handgun license holder being irresponsible, but for those who didn’t get a license, I worry. Think of that rally that was supposed to occur Saturday Feb. 6 for the “pro-rape” protest. If any of us, particularly ladies defending themselves, were shot out of protest, it would have been perfectly legal for the weapon to be out and about for the discord.
The last point I’d like to address is back to the safety of students, physically and mentally. I personally know people with severe anxiety over school shootings, in a time where campus shootings occur even when there should be no guns on campus.
As a private institution, our policy will remain the same, but placing the possibility on our public sister campuses, like USF where the student body is about five times the size of ours, is dangerous. Can you imagine the anxious community it may create? I don’t dislike the idea of people carrying protection. I carry protection when I travel between bus stops, as a UT commuting student. But I do advocate the idea of out of sight out of mind, for the comfort and tranquility of not knowing there are loaded tools in the hands of people I can’t gauge the mental stability of around me.
So go ahead with the legislation that more than likely with increase the famous American hysteria rather than create a secure blanket for whatever your public agenda may be, Mr. Government. I promise that if I am carrying protection beyond that of my sharp object, I will keep it concealed for the security of my fellow citizens out of respect and care.