(CN) – Florida State University violated a student’s civil rights by banning firearms on campus during college football games even if they are locked inside a private vehicle, a lawsuit claims.
In a complaint filed September 8, Rebekah Hargrove, a member of Florida Carry, a gun owner advocacy group, says that as school got underway this fall, the university published an amendment to its policies, adding a provision that specifically pertained to guns stored in vehicles.
According to the complaint, the new rules were included in a document entitled, “Florida State University Game Day Plan 2015,” that published on the campus police website.
It states: “Weapons and/or firearms are not permitted to be stored in a vehicle on the FSU campus at any time, including game days.”
It goes on to say that “Weapons are prohibited on the Florida State University Campus at all times including football games” and that “Fans may not store firearms or other weapons in their vehicles parked on campus while attending the game.”
It goes on to say that violation of these rules is a felony, and that anyone violating the rules would be prosecuted.
Hargrove argues the University knew or should have known when it drafted the rules that it had no authority to prohibit guns in any way on campus, including their storage in private vehicles.
This is especially true, she says, of students who hold concealed weapon firearms licenses.
Hargrove, who claims to carry a gun for self defense, says she plans to attend FSU football games, and fears being arrested if her firearm is found in her car.
“Hargrove and the members of Florida Carry are being adversely affected by the enactment, promulgation, and enforcement of the preempted rules, policies, and regulations,” the complaint says.
“Plaintiffs members have a right of associational privacy and fear retaliation from FSU should their identities be made public, and have a substantial interest in the exercise of their constitutional and statutory rights to keep and bear arms,” it continues.
Hargrove seeks compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief to ensure the new gun prohibitions are not enforced.
She is represented by Eric Friday, of Fletcher & Phillips, and Lesley McKinney of the Law Office of David M. Goldman. Both law firms are located in Jacksonville, Fla.
When contacted for comment by Courthouse News, Eric Friday said, “I think the complaint speaks for itself.”
In a written statement, the university said Hargrove and her supporter and co-plaintiff, Florida Carry, have got it all wrong, and that the lawsuit is attacking a policy that hasn’t been in place since 2013.
Weapons are not permitted on campus at any time, the university said, with the exception of concealed carry permit holders who properly store their firearms in a vehicle parked at the university.
“FSU’s policy was modified two years ago to recognize this exception, following a court case involving another university that clarified the issue,” the statement said. “To the extent that Florida Carry objects to language on an FSU web site on football game day operations, that site was inadvertently not updated to reflect the 2013 policy change and has since been modified.”
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