Monday, September 25, 2023
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College Dorm Gun Ban Ruled Constitutional

(CN) - The University of Florida can prohibit the possession of firearms in student housing on university property, a Florida appeals court ruled.

Florida Carry, a non-profit devoted to protecting citizens right to bear arms, sued the University of Florida and its then-President Bernie Machen last year.

It claimed that the Florida Constitution permits students to own a firearm at home, and a residence hall, as a home for students, should not be governed by the blanket prohibition on firearms on university property.

The trial court found for the University, and the First District appeals court affirmed the decision.

"Section 790.25 was enacted in 1965, and we find no indication in the statute or other authority that the Legislature, at that time, intended to make it lawful for those living in university housing to possess firearms therein," Judge Joseph Lewis, Jr. said, writing for the three-judge panel. "To the extent that the Legislature at that time did intend to include university housing within the definition of 'home,' '[a] legislature may not bind the hands of future legislatures by prohibiting amendments to statutory law.'"

In 1992, the Florida Legislature enacted section 790.115 which prohibits the possession of any firearm on school property or at a school-sponsored event without express permission from the principal.

In this law, the legislature made an exception for vehicles located in school parking lots, but not for student housing.

"Had the Legislature wished to do so, it could have included a subparagraph with language such as 'in student housing pursuant to section 790.25(3)(n).' The fact that it did not do so supports the trial court's ruling and Appellees' position as to this issue," Lewis said.

In 2013, the en banc appeals court upheld a suit brought by Florida Carry to enforce the right of students to carry a securely encased firearm within their car in university campus parking.

This earlier opinion stated, "If the issue in this case involved the right of a student to carry a firearm in the classroom or at a sporting event, our analysis would be different. There are certain places where firearms can be legally prohibited, but the legislature has recognized that a citizen who is going to be in one of these places should be able to keep a firearm securely encased within his or her vehicle."

Relying on this precedent, the panel said Florida Carry's position was "a strained interpretation of the statutes involved," and the 1992 amendment was a valid alteration of the 1965 law.

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