I would like to provide you with a brief window into my life – because it may have relevance to your own. As I write this, it is shortly after midnight on the University of Florida campus. I am a graduate student closing out a fifteen-hour work day in a laboratory. It’s been a long day. While I wish I could have left while the sun was still up, I think we’ve all had days where things don’t quite work out that way. When I power off the computer, turn off the lights, and shut down the lab, I’ll set off on a quarter-mile trek across a darkened campus to reach my car. I am not unique in this; thousands of students across the nation will make similar journeys from late night tests and study sessions . . .

As I walk, I’ll be acutely aware that law enforcement response time under the best circumstances takes place on the order of minutes – and that violent crime happens in a matter of seconds. A 68-year-old man was recently robbed at gun point behind the offices of our campus newspaper, The Alligator. The robbery took less than thirty-five seconds. It occurred less than a thousand yards from the edge of campus.

I’ve been a student in good standing at this University for over seven years. I hold a concealed weapons or firearms license. I am permitted to carry in 98 percent of the rest of the state. And yet, when I make my journey, I will be unarmed.

I’ll be unarmed as I head to my car in the benighted parking facility. I’ll be unarmed as I drive home. Like most students, I cannot afford to live in a gated community; my home is considerably less safe than campus. If need to stop along the way for any reason, I’ll be unarmed then too. I’ll be unarmed when I pull up to my darkened house and go inside to my wife – who I desperately hope is safe and sound inside.

Florida state law and University of Florida policy prohibit non-police from being armed on campus. Neither students, nor faculty, nor staff may bring a firearm onto campus without the express permission of the University Police department. Even with police permission, the firearm would need to be unloaded and taken directly to the police station for storage. This despite the fact that criminals and unstable individuals seem to have no problems bringing firearms on campus at will; there have been gun and knifepoint robberies on campus in the past several years.

My desire to exercise the most fundamental right – the right to keep myself and my loved ones safe from harm – is directly at odds with state law and university policy. This should not be. Students, faculty, and staff all across the nation face a plight similar to my own. In fact, less than one percent of post secondary institutions in the US permit concealed carry on campus. On those handful of campuses that do allow for concealed carry, armed citizens have integrated seamlessly into their communities—just as they have everywhere that allows concealed carry.

This is an issue that has the potential to stretch far beyond the borders of campus.  Universities represent a critical and unrecognized battleground for our second amendment rights. According to the Chronicle of Higher education, over 75 percent of legislators hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher. That number can only be expected to rise as time goes on. Tomorrow’s policy makers – future senators, representatives, mayors, governors, and presidents – are, right now, students on today’s campuses. The message they are being taught each and every day on those campuses: if you are disarmed, you are safe.

We’ve made tremendous stride in the struggle to defend our second amendments rights in the past several years. Thirty-nine states are now shall-issue or no-permit states (qualified applicants must be allowed to carry). If we want to keep up the momentum and prevent the pendulum from swinging in the opposite direction, concealed carry on college campuses is a critical next step. This isn’t just the students’ fight. It’s a battle we all have to fight. Failing to do so puts all of our safety in jeopardy.

[Dustin Blanton is the Campus Leader of Students for Concealed Carry at UF. Click here for more information.]

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46 Responses to Carry on Campus

  1. While I do not contest the point that a CC permit holder ought to be allowed to carry on campus, there is this that one needs to answer:

    Does your campus police department provide escort service for those students who must cross campus after dark?

    At the local state U in my hometown (in Texas – where folks are reasonable about these things) – a student can call the university PD and they will send an officer to escort the student to their vehicle/dorm.

    While I do wish the carry-on-campus issue had passed in our state legislature this year, at least the UPD folks are making an effort to provide some protection to the students.

    Any anti-carry arguments will point this out. To argue for, one must be prepared to handle those arguments.

    • Those escort services are like pizza delivery or taxi services, great if you’re the only one who wants to use it at that time. What if 20, or 30, or 40 students all called for the escort service at the same time, from different starting locations and going to different end points? Suddenly the system is overwhelmed as the few campus police on the night shift aren’t able to handle all the calls in a reasonable time frame. What if something happens to a student while they’re sitting and waiting for the escort to arrive?

      Why not allow those who are permitted by the state (or their home state for out-of-state students/faculty/staff) to carry concealed in the vast majority of the rest of the state to carry on campus?

      • And that is the point, and the counterargument one needs to have available to the anti-carry argument.

        Get the UPD call-log of the number of students asking for escort service vs. the number of officers available for said service, the cost to the school for said officers, the risks for those who have to do without the service due to the overwhelming number of calls for the service who must get to their job, their children at home, etc. and so run the risk of walking unescorted.

        The thing is to make the argument for CC on campus, one must have facts about why the proposed arguments against CC on campus are unworkable.

    • The escort only accompanies the student/emplolyee to his vehicle. If, during the ride home, he needs to stop for gas (or other reason) near the “Student Ghetto” or one of the other miscreant-filled high-crime garden spots that ring the U of F campus, he is defenseless.

  2. Carry anyway. I do. I carry everywhere. I do not go where I cannot carry due to metal detectors, etc. I refuse to be disarmed.

    Most folks think of the Constitution as an agreement between the government and the people. It isn’t. It is a contract amongst the people. It is your contract with your neighbor and with your HOA president. It is between you and your best friend and between you and the kid at the drivethrough. It is a contract that specifies how we will live together.

    I refuse to be disarmed because a few of my neighbors have decided to live in breach of that contract. If they can take my Right to keep and bear arms away then I figure I can take anything the Constitution protects away from them too. Anything. I know they don’t want that so I assume that they don’t really mean to try to take away my Rights. So I excercise them anyway.

    • “Carry anyway” may be a good way to wind up in prison. A lot depends on the circumstances – including the state laws and attitude of those in the judicial system.

      Where in a conservative state (e.g. Texas) and with a record of the number of criminal events in the specific neighborhood, one might be able, with the aid of a good expensive lawyer to avoid prison time. You may loose the CC permit – possibly for life.

      You need to be able to prove to the satisfaction of twelve total strangers, screened by two lawyers (at least), before one elected judge that you’re decision to violate the law was based on a real threat to your life.

      • Let me explain this. I have, in the past, been willing to participate in war to preserve the Constitution. Even swore an oath to that effect. Doesn’t an unwillingness to excercise my rights out of fear that I could get hurt or be put in jail make that earlier set of decisions and actions a little, um, hypocritical? Should my attitude be “I meant it then but now it could be inconvenient or even dangerous”?

        I respect the law very, very deeply. It is those who enforce and judge the law that have forgotten that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and no other law can trump it. There have been too many folks that have taught their children that nothing is worth dying for. In my opinion, if one has no principles that they’d be willing to die for they also have nothing to live for.

        If only earlier generations had been unwilling to compromise away all of our Rights we would be in a much better place. As it is, it falls to us to excercise them and to secure them in the excercise.

        • Also, being a former 11B, custom gunsmith that also does tactical training and part owner of a gun store, I know the local SWAT team leads and several members, I am a business partner with a city policeman and friends with the county Sheriff. They know me and know that if they ever need help of any kind they have only to reach out to me. I know I will recieve no special tratment but I still doubt I’ll find myself in conflict with them because they know that I really do have a deep respect for the law and I am one of the folks that helps people a lot.Besides, if we all took your advice, Graybeard, we wouldn’t have the “Heller” decision. History teaches that one must incite conflict to make meaningful progress.

        • Bill, only politicians break the law while they claim to respect it. I’m not trying to tell you when and where to carry. But don’t be a politician.

        • You are lucky to have a personal relationship with lawmen. Most of us do not. We would not be afforded the considerations if caught carrying where prohibited. Instead, evening news story about MWAG carrying an “automatic pistol illegally” and a politician crowing about getting another illegal gun off the street.

        • “The law of the land is the Constitution. It trumps all others.”

          Does repeating this impose a “saying is believing” effect? While I agree that the constitution should be the law of the land, anyone who actually believes that it is in reality, is dreaming.

          Carry where and when you want to. Good luck if you ever have to face those strangers. I sincerely hope they share your view.

        • Right. Ok. Sorry, I thought there were at least a few men with testicles around here. Apparently I was wrong. This whole conversation proves it without a doubt.

        • Yeah, but what are you accomplishing by it? You’re not doing much to protect yourself- it’s more likely that you’ll be made and end up in jail than it is that you’ll need to defend yourself.

          And since you carry concealed, you’re not really making much of a statement. If you really want to be all self-sacrificial, strap the gun on openly and get yourself arrested. It worked for the suffragists.

          Or maybe you could just carry legally (contradictory laws notwithstanding) and take a newbie to the range.

        • I take newbies to the range all of the time. More than a hundred this year.

          I do carry openly most of the time. I carry concealed infrequently. When I do, I will not be “made”. I sacrifice convenience for security of concealment, understanding the trade-offs quite well. If I need to use it I’ll need to take cover/buy time to retrieve the weapon.

        • You’re not following me, Bill. I’m sure you understand the tactics and trade-offs much better than I (really- no sarcasm).

          My point is if you carry concealed in a “gun free zone”, you’re not demonstrating your willingness to die for your principles, nor does it indicate that you’re willing to get hurt to preserve the constitution. You’re taking your principles and stuffing them in your waistband where no one can see them. If you want to get all high and mighty about putting your life on the line, open carry in that gun free zone. We’ll all make a fuss about your unlawful imprisonment and you can be a martyr for the cause.

          If you don’t want to do that (and I won’t blame you if you don’t), have the sense to not talk about how your willingness to suffer for your principles is demonstrated by your carrying in defiance of local laws.

        • My willingness to suffer for my principles is clear to anyone who knows me. The purrpose is to be able to defend myself, not to make a point about principle. That said, if I get in trouble in excercising my Right, then so be it. Nothing about martyrdom or any of that horsesh*t. I’ll defend myself in court to the best of my financial ability and see where that leaves me and make furher decisions from there.

    • I would take your advice and carry everywhere, but I would rather not spend time in jail and lose my right to carry anywhere…

  3. “Does your campus police department provide escort service for those students who must cross campus after dark?”

    i am a grad student at the largest public university in MD. my classes extend beyond the 10 pm hour. our campus police (real cops with guns not mall security types) run check points at the entry ways for campus in the nighttime. they are concentrated around those areas, and i rarely see any type of nighttime patrols.
    If any type of police escort service exists i am unaware.

  4. My daughter attends James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. The Virginia Citizen’s Defense League (vcdl.org) is staging a demonstration there today on campus carry as they have over recent weeks at a number of VA state college campuses. She will be there.

  5. I think all students who are pro CCW should begin asking for escorts after dark. If the Campus PD has to spend all their time doing escorts, perhaps they will stop begin part of the cabal that keeps students unarmed.

    For instance “Hello, Campus PD, This is Jane Doe. Since I am not allowed to carry a firearm on campus, would you please send an armed officer here to escort me to my car”

    • Yeah, that’ll ensure that the responding escort is cheerful, prompt, and respectful. What they’ll hear is “Hello, I don’t really want your help, but I want you to inconvenience yourself so that I can make a political statement.”

      There’s gotta be a more winsome way to go about this.

      • ” What they’ll hear is “Hello, I don’t really want your help, but I want you to inconvenience yourself so that I can make a political statement.””

        So? As soon as they refuse, you can call the news and sue them for refusing to provide you with protection due to your political views. Even better would be if they refused and you actually got robbed – then you’d REALLY have a lawsuit on your hands.

        • No what will happen, is that the campus police and the administrators of the college will have you in their office interrogating you about your pro gun, concealed carry stance and you will either be expelled or be monitored for the rest of your college life!

  6. Hi, Dustin. Since Danny Rolling, the “Gainsville Ripper,” had his little spree, I can make five cogent and forceful agruments in favor of guns on your campus.

  7. College is where students can learn how to make bombs in chem lab and handle radioactive substances. Students are exposed to a drug and sex culture that does prove fatal. Locals mug the kids and female students are at the highest risk for sexual assault than any other point in their life.

    But firearms, they are too dangerous for college campuses.

    • “Locals mug the kids and female students are at the highest risk for sexual assault than any other point in their life.”

      Not disagreeing with you, but the “highest risk of sexual assault than any other point in their life” is probably also correlated with the fact that they’re most likely at their peak attractiveness too.

  8. As a veteran who is going to college after his service, let me share a small tidbit:

    Not all college carry bans are enforceable under state law. Check the statutes and see whether or not a college weapon ban is listed under the state law as a ‘gun free zone’. If it isn’t, then you cannot be charged with a felony under state law for illegal CCW. You can be cited and face administrative penalties such as expulsion on down if the university finds out a student is carrying, but that will be the extent of the consequences should one , in a hypothetical instance, carry concealed on campus.

    Without state backing , a campus gun ban is only enforceable under property rights due to the University Directors owning the land, just like if your liberal mother in law bans guns in her house. You MIL doesn’t have her own police department that patrols her property, but the example is still valid.

    I invite anyone deciding to attend a college to do their legal research and choose their school accordingly. I recommend this approach because 99% of universities will have some token ‘gun ban’ on their property as a matter of principle-but the presence of such a rule doesn’t subject one to being disarmed necessarily.

    Another note-do not waste one’s time applying for permission by the college. I have never heard of anyone actually receiving such a letter by the college leadership ,save one case where a woman with a CCW was raped at a college via gunpoint and demanded redress under threat of litigation.

    • The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services web page lists restricted areas, and includes “any college or university facility*”. The asterisk indicates additional information or restrictions. I don’t know what those are.

  9. Coming from one of the largest, if not the largest university in the United States, I see crimes occurring all the time. Up until this point, The Ohio State University talking heads have said there is no need for concealed carry on campus. They maintain that off-campus is the “unsafe” area and that you are perfectly safe on campus. This is completely over-looking the fact that these attack are occurring on the way to or from campus…However, this past week we not only had a robbery ON campus but IN a campus building AND occurring midday around 3:30…This is adding to the fact that over the past 30 days there has been over 70 attacks on students right off of campus grounds.The criminals KNOW students are unarmed and they take advantage of that. Clearly we cannot rely on the police because, as they say, “when seconds count, the police are a minute away”…or as in this last case, three minutes away.

    • I think your right; gun free zones are also free run criminal zones. The crooks can feast to their hearts content. Usually the campus cops are Barney Fife rejects.

  10. How convenient the campus has removed right of self defense without assuming the responsibility for your safety. Might sound harsh but study online or find another way to finish the degree. If enough people told them they would rather not be raped and robbed or killed so some people feel artificially safer maybe the loss of revenue would get their attention

  11. If a gunman knew there was a good chance he or she would get popped by one or more CCW holders in class it would likely end these school shootings. I also recently graduated from the University of Florida and did not like the policy of no firearms or weapons…blah blah blah. I was fortunate enough to legally carry both openly and concealed to class since I was a sworn LEO at the time.

    As an ex-LEO I can honestly tell you police are there to take reports after the fact and don’t even have a legal duty to protect individuals. With the average response time at 3-5 minutes with the agency I used to work for, that is still plenty of time to make innocents dead. There was nothing better than taking a death investigation call for some mope who got smoked by a potential victim.

    • Sadly, in many states, mine included, coming on to school grounds is a felony. In Ohio I believe its a second degree felony.

  12. Before the practice was banned on campuses decades ago, were their any problems? Have we seen or heard of any problems on the 30+ campuses who now allow the practice? The answer to both is no.

    If past behavior is any indication of the future, then there is little reason to not allow legal CCW holders the ability to do the same once again. If current behavior on campuses with CCW present has been without event, then i say we should put the hysteria aside.

    As was mentioned above, VT just had a second shooting on campus. After the 1st event, the number of gun free zone ‘signs’ were increased. Gun free zones are a poor policy and signs are meaningless. If we all can’t get on board with 21 year old plus trained students the ability to carry on campus, we ought to at least be open to the idea of professors who may also have permits.

  13. I just called my campus security and they do allow me to keep a gun in the car. Getting a small safe and mounting inside your trunk solves about half your problems. Calling an escort or simply walking to the parking lot with another person solves the other half. Keep the gas tank above one-quarter if you dont wanna stop on the way home.

    As for CC in classes and on the grounds, you could try fighting this issue but thousands of weeping mothers would descend upon you and render any chance of that happening obsolete. Even folks that are inclined to support the 2nd amendment dont always agree on whether colleges should allow weapons.

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