Florida universities falling into line after gun rights court victory

Under threat of a lawsuit by gun rights activists, the University of South Florida has joined Florida State and the University of North Florida in revising its policies to allow guns to be stored in cars on campus.

USF announced the decision Monday after Florida Carry attorney Eric Friday said last week the group could sue the university if it did not change its rules, according to the Tampa Tribune,

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Photo: WFTS

Friday was the lead attorney for University of North Florida student Alexandria Lainez, who won an appeals court decision in December that ruled UNF had no right to infringe on Lainez’s Second Amendment rights to keep a gun in her vehicle for personal protection during commutes to and from school.

That First District Court of Appeal ruling was the biggest victory for Florida gun owners in 20 years, Friday said at the time.

At issue was a state law passed in 2011 that beefed up a 1987 law that prohibited local governments in Florida from enacting anti-gun ordinances that went beyond state gun-control laws.

Under the 2011 law, local jurisdictions or agencies that tried to impose stricter gun control laws than those passed by the state were threatened with fines against the agency heads, removal from office for elected officials and lawsuits seeking personal damages from those officials up to $100,000.

However, school districts were exempted under the law. In the Lainez case, UNF argued that it should legally be considered a school, and could prohibit firearms on campus — even those stored securely in vehicles.

The First District Court ruled otherwise and UNF decided in late December not to appeal to the state Supreme Court. That left other universities to follow suit in changing their policies to allow guns in vehicles on campus.

USF changed its policy Friday but is still working on specific language, the Tribune reported.

Friday told the Tribune that Florida Carry still had concerns about the USF’s compliance with the ruling, but is willing to work with administrators to address all concerns.

“They appear to be operating in good faith. However, we do have some concerns regarding the language in the current policy we would like to see corrected,” Friday said.

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