Students mixed on allowing guns on UF campus
Published: Monday, January 13, 2014 at 6:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 13, 2014 at 6:22 p.m.
William Salvato remembers walking his dog one night in Gainesville when a group of men approached him. One man grabbed his shoulder, but they left when his dog bit one of them.
Although he was unharmed, Salvato said the encounter sparked a passion for gun rights.
Now the president of UF’s chapter of Students for Concealed Carry, the 21-year-old senior said on Monday that guns could be useful to students in the name of self-defense, citing the various UF Alerts, robberies and assaults that occur.
“There’s crime all around campus,” he said.
And he is not alone in his thinking.
Florida Carry Inc., a gun-rights group, filed a lawsuit Friday against the University of Florida seeking to allow students to keep guns in their dormitories. Students are allowed to have guns in their cars on campus, but nowhere else on school property.
If a campus resident wants to have a gun, he or she must register the firearm with the University Police Department. The gun is then kept unloaded at the University Police Station.
Students for Concealed Carry is a national organization with 43,000 members, including students, faculty and college employees. UF’s chapter has about 50 registered members. It supports citizens’ right to bear arms and students’ right to have guns on college campuses.
Salvato said sometimes he has to walk a few blocks home at night because of late exams, and being able to carry a concealed gun to and from campus would make him feel safer.
But not all UF students feel the same way.
Steven Elkington, a UF resident assistant, said he thinks allowing guns in the residence halls could have negative consequences. He said because students can be using drugs or alcohol, allowing guns in dorms could mean trouble.
“I feel like it would be more of a problem,” he said.
Elkington, who oversees part of Murphree Hall, said if guns were to be allowed in the dorms in the future, he believes that UF Housing and Residence Education would have new protocols to accompany the change, as well as have more interaction with the UPD.
Precious Williams, a 25-year-old sophomore, said she owns a gun but it doesn’t make her feel any safer. She said her father, a Marine, purchased the firearm for her for his peace of mind.
She said if guns were allowed on campus, it would make her feel less secure. Because of the large size of the school, she often expects that something might happen.
“I’m always paying attention to people around me,” she said.
She said the fact that guns are allowed in cars makes her concerned, especially considering factors such as road rage.
Christina Fernandez, 19, said she doesn’t think having guns in residence halls and on campus is a good idea.
“I would feel really uneasy about it,” said Fernandez, a sophomore.
Fernandez said there are other available means of protection, such as pepper spray. She said she doesn’t understand why a student would feel the need to bring a gun on campus.
“It’s someone’s life,” she said. “It’s thought of way too casually.”
Fernandez said she finds that it would be more likely that a gun-related injury would occur due to an accident.
Keith Teller, owner of the Gainesville Dojo, said weapons such a guns or mace are only effective if the owner knows how to use them properly.
Teller added that leaving weapons in a car is hazardous because of the likelihood of break-ins.
He said having general knowledge as well as paying attention to surroundings are key actions that can avoid dangerous situations.
“Basic common sense is the best self-defense,” he said.