Watch CBS News

High Caliber Proposal For Colleges Shooting Through Legislature

Follow CBSMIAMI.COM: Facebook | Twitter

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- When you think of university campuses, lofty ideals and deep thoughts come to mind. You don't think of a shooting gallery. But that's what some fear Florida campuses might become if a bill in the legislature hits the mark.

It would allow anyone with a concealed weapons permit to carry a gun on college campuses. It has cleared committees at the speed of a bullet train, despite opposition from every university president, student government associations, faculty groups and chiefs of police who have packed committee hearings, to no avail.

"It will absolutely complicate my ability to do my job," Florida International University Police Chief Alex Casas said on Thursday.

Casas calls the proposal dangerous. He said police racing to a campus shooting might easily kill someone who pulled their permitted pistol on an active shooter.

"A man with a gun, or a woman with a gun, I don't know if they're friend or foe. It could significantly add chaos to what is already very, very chaotic," Casas said.

Backers call the campus carry law a basic right to bear arms issue.

CLICK HERE to watch Gary Nelson's report

"Students and people that are on a university campus have the right and duty to protect themselves," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Greg Steube(R)-Sarasota.

Supporters point to the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech University - 32 people shot dead - and a shooting at FSU last year that left three people wounded and the shooter dead, as reason for law abiding citizens to be able to pack heat on campus.

Despite overwhelming opposition from universities, students, academics and law enforcement, the bill is being propelled forward by a powerful National Rifle Association lobby.

"Police do the best job they can," NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer told a House committee Thursday, "But the reality is they are not there when the attack occurs."

At Miami Dade College, some students found the notion of toting guns with text books scary.

"It's dangerous. That's all I can say. We wouldn't be safe here," student Luis Lopez said.

Some understand the right to bear arms argument, but with a caveat.

"If you're mentally capable to carry a weapon, that's fine," said student J.D. Ramos.

Florida, however, requires no mental health evaluation to get a gun permit. Applicants don't even have to show that they can shoot a gun, let alone hit what they're shooting at.

Grave reservations notwithstanding, the bill appears poised to become law.

"I'm not naive. I think it'll get passed. It seems like it's going to get passed," said FIU's Chief Casas.

Indeed, the campus gun bill shot through the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday as it continues to barrel through the legislature.

The proposed campus carry measure would technically include private universities and colleges, too, but they could opt out. CBS4's  Gary Nelson could find no private institution in Florida that permits firearms on campus. The University of Miami has a strict prohibition against weapon in its code of conduct, a prohibition that it and other private schools would most probably continue to enforce if lawmakers pull the trigger on the campus gun bill.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.