The proposal that would allow guns on campus is still a concern for the UCF community. Many students, police and faculty agree firearms on a campus would not be safe and are fighting against the law passing.
The UCF chapter of the United Faculty of Florida (UFF) and the College Democrats agree that having guns on campus would be dangerous and spoke against this law passing during a rally hosted by the College Democrats. This Friday, April 24 they are holding a town hall meeting to discuss HB 4005/SB 176 in Classroom Building 1, Room 122 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
UFF treasurer Barry Mauer, 49, along with the council has helped pass a resolution opposing the bill as well as a resolution calling for a right to vacate the workplace for self-defense without penalty if weapons are present. The chapter is also coordinating with other UFF chapters across the state and with the state office.
“If there are guns on campus, teachers and students have to devote mental energy to wondering who might be armed, whether they are trained, are in their right minds, have their weapon secured, could start shooting in response to a noise or disturbance that the gun owner thinks is a possible threat, etc.,” Mauer said. ”In other words, guns are a major distraction. People who are distracted do not learn.”
During college, various courses are taken which discuss difficult and controversial topics, such as religion, race, politics and sexuality. When students and teachers may disagree on these topics or grades, having firearms can cause unwanted accidents, according to Mauer.
“As educators, we want people to use their words, not their firearms, to deal with their thoughts and feelings,” Mauer said.
UCFPD officer Peter Stephens, 51, said that people ages 18-24 have a rise in mental issues and are often affected by social situations. This may cause them to harm others, but he said being aware of the situation and having resources such as mental health services and police ready beforehand is essential to a safe, secure experience on campus.
“We are prepared to react in emergency situations and have the training and experience that makes us one of the best agencies in Central Florida and statewide,” Stephens said. “Officers at the UCF police department are focused on the mission, to protect our community while adhering to the guiding principles of law.”
He said that overall, the Florida Police Chiefs Association opinion is that allowing firearms on campuses in Florida is not a good idea; but if the law were to pass, they are already looking at options of what course to take when a gun situation may occur.
Stephens said that looking at campuses which already allow firearms is important but is hard, due to size alone.
“Change is difficult sometimes. New is not always better, but we have to live within the system we’ve been given,” Stephens said.
College Democrats President Chelsea Daley, 20, said that this law passing will cause both economic and safety concerns for UCF. She said that this may cause less funding for clubs, sports and SGA programs. As for safety, she said it will be terrifying knowing someone in your class might have a gun because most people who have access to one may not even be trained to use them. She said she believes we have enough protection on campus.
“It puts a lack of faith in law enforcement here on our campus. They are trained to protect us,” Daley said.
She said the best course of action to take against this law passing is to talk to the state legislature and that if the law were to pass, she would still continue to fight against it. If it does not pass, she said she will celebrate another safe day on campus.