UF lawyers: Gun suit has no legal standing
Published: Monday, February 3, 2014 at 8:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, February 3, 2014 at 8:15 p.m.
Florida Carry Inc. has no legal standing to sue the University of Florida and President Bernie Machen over its firearms policy, lawyers for the university said in a five-page motion to dismiss filed Friday.
The motion, filed on behalf of UF by Barry Richard, a shareholder with the Greenberg Traurig law firm, attempts to shoot holes in Florida Carry's arguments that UF illegally restricted the rights of students, faculty and staff to keep firearms on campus.
The suit says that UF has violated the Second Amendment and Florida law by prohibiting guns in cars, dorms and residential housing, but fails to show that any of Florida Carry's members were harmed by UF's firearms policies.
“The complaint fails to allege that even one member, much less a substantial number of members, are substantially affected by an alleged University violation of the cited statutory provisions,” Richard said in his motion to dismiss.
No evidence in the complaint is given that any member of the association owns a firearm, drives or rides in a car on campus, has ever carried or stored a firearm in such a car, or intends to do so while on campus, the motion said.
As for students keeping guns in dorms, the motion said, the complaint fails to identify that even one member of the organization is a student living on campus and was hurt by the violations.
To have standing to sue on behalf of its members, the motion said, an association must be able to show that a significant number of its members are “substantially affected” by the challenged rule.
“The complaint fails to allege any connection between any member of the plaintiff association and the University of Florida, much less a connection to the alleged causes of action,” the motion to dismiss said.
The nonprofit Florida Carry gun rights group based in Port Orange, Fla., sued UF a month after winning a 1st District Court of Appeal decision in December that state universities cannot prohibit people from keeping guns securely locked in their cars while on campus.
The group threatened to sue any state university that didn't comply with the court decision on a case-by-case basis. UF is the first state university it sued, claiming it didn't do enough to let students know about lifting the restriction of having guns in cars.
It also pushed the issue further than just guns in cars, saying UF didn't have the right to prevent students, faculty or employees from keeping guns in their university residence halls, or dictate what route people must follow while transporting guns through campus.
UF's firearm regulation says nothing about storing guns in cars, but the general counsel's office added a footnote to the regulation saying that it would fully comply with the decision of the 1st DCA as it related to guns in cars.
UF also took down a policy statement on its police department's website that said guns couldn't be stored in cars.
UF General Counsel Jamie Lewis Keith said in an affidavit filed with the motion that she explained all this to Sean Caranna, the executive director of Florida Carry, in a phone call on Jan. 7. She said she also told him that she had met with the university's chief of police to discuss the court's ruling and what it meant, and had discussions with senior officials about the ruling.
Keith also said administrators and information technology staff researched all of UF's policies to make sure that they conformed with the 1st DCA decision.
Caranna never mentioned suing the university or President Machen, nor did he discuss university housing or housing policy with her, Keith said.
Caranna said UF didn't go far in enough in notifying students and others that they could keep guns in their cars, and that it continues to overreach its authority in prohibiting guns from dorms and other university-owned residences.
A hearing has not yet been scheduled.
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