Thursday, January 29, 2015


I'd like to thank our sister UFF chapters for passing resolutions opposing concealed weapons on campus and opposing donor donations with strings attached, including the UFF-University of Florida chapter:

Other chapters are considering these resolutions as well.

The FSU chapter resolutions can be found here:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Additional reasons why guns have no place on campus

So I’ve been doing a little digging, and it appears that calls for repealing bans on firearms on campuses began in earnest after the Virginia Tech tragedy in 2007. The shooter killed 32 students and faculty members and injured 17. The shooter purchased one gun online and another in a gun shop. He also had a history of mental health issues, according to news reports, but that didn’t stop him from buying a gun. So what if students on Virginia Tech’s campus were able to carry firearms into their classrooms. What would the scene look like? Who would be shooting who? What would the collateral damage look like?

As a 2012 article in University Business notes, “even with superior marksmanship training, law enforcement officers in a live fire scenario hit their intended targets only around 25 percent of the time.” And a 2013 editorial in the San Antonio Express-News states, “Even trained police officers can miss their mark. An analysis of incidents between 1998 and 2006 from the RAND Center on Quality Policing found officers hit their mark 30 percent of the time when a suspect wasn't firing back. In a gunfight, accuracy dropped to 18 percent. In 2012, police shot a gunman at the Empire State Building, but also injured nine bystanders. Would college students or faculty do better?” That is an extremely important question.

I think it is also important to note that the legislation in question here in Florida is awfully similar to model bills created by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) with the help of the NRA in 2008. So Corporate America voted to support a bill that would allow guns on campuses. The argument that it is our God-given right to carry guns (not sure when God gave us that right) falls a bit flat when one considers who actually benefits from such legislation. Certainly not educators or students. Rather, it’s the gun industry. And it spends a lot of money to make sure people buy guns and to ensure that regulation encourages us to buy guns.

The Center for Responsive Politics found that in 2014, gun lobbyists spent quite a few bucks:

Top Lobbying Clients, 2014
Client/Parent Total
National Rifle Assn $3,360,000
National Assn for Gun Rights $3,080,000
National Shooting Sports Foundation $3,070,000
Gun Owners of America $1,451,994
Citizens Cmte for Right Keep & Bear Arms $501,488

Look, I don’t care if you want to own a gun, but I don’t want it in my classroom. Cultivating a safe learning environment is difficult to do when we have to worry if other people in the room have a loaded weapon in their pocket. Too many bad things can happen, as the Harvard School of Public Health and others have found.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Concealed weapons have no place on campus

I am quite concerned about HB 4005, which would repeal the ban on concealed weapons on campus, and I know I am not the only one. I've heard from faculty members at FSU and across the state. Even President Thrasher, a big Second Amendment supporter, has publicly opposed the bill, including at a UFF-FSU luncheon, and was instrumental in stopping the bill in 2011. The UFF-FSU chapter overwhelmingly passed a resolution opposing the legislation, which was also read during testimony at the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee that heard the bill on January 20:

Be it resolved that we, the Executive Council of the United Faculty of Florida-Florida State University, oppose proposed legislation that would allow concealed weapons on university campuses. We support the arguments and evidence suggesting that an increase in deadly firearms on campus will not enhance the safety of our students, faculty, or staff because of the potential increase in collateral damage, accidental shootings, and confusion regarding who the aggressor is in a given situation.

I know there are faculty members on our campus who support the bill, but as one who has studied school shootings since 1999, I personally find the arguments that suggest more guns on campus deter crime do not outweigh the concerns raised about campus safety by campus police, students, faculty, parents, and university presidents. To expect a student with a concealed weapon to shoot and presumably kill an active shooter is unacceptable and irresponsible. Police and military have how much more training compared to a 21-year-old with a permit to carry a concealed firearm? It seems to me that a "good guy," as Rep. Dennis Baxley, who sponsored Florida’s 2005 “Stand Your Ground” law, called concealed weapons permit holders, could have serious psychological issues after shooting another human being or after confronting with a decision in a life or death situation. And what if the "good guy" misses and shoots an innocent bystander? What if the "good guy" misses and the "bad guy" then shoots the "good guy"? And what if the police show up and see two people with guns; who do they disarm? The good guys don't always wear white hats and badges and the bad guys don't always wear black hats like they do in Westerns. There isn't time to ask, only to react. There are way too many disastrous consequences.

It also seems to me quite disingenuous for legislators to expect faculty and students to feel safer not knowing who has a gun in their classrooms when firearms are prohibited in any meeting of the Legislature. Or in any courthouse. Or bars. Or in lots of places. Because the potential danger outweighs the potential threat.

I'm all for discussions about campus safety, but introducing more guns on campus--and not knowing who is carrying those guns--is not the solution.

Despite the fact that 15 people spoke against the bill and 4 spoke for it at the January 20 hearing, the bill passed the subcommittee along party lines: 8-4. I will post information about the next hearing as soon as I know when it is scheduled. I encourage faculty and others concerned about the bill to plan to attend and have your voices heard.