OPINION: DeSantis’s push for constitutional carry could have dangerous effects for Florida schools

Joshua Smith, Opinions Editor

About two weeks after Florida governor Ron DeSantis stated his desire to pass a bill legalizing “constitutional carry,” an 18-year-old man drove approximately three hours to a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, New York, armed in tactical gear suitable for war, and unleashed gunfire killing ten people and injuring three additional civilians.

All of the victims were Black. Given the shooter’s online postings, the victims were targeted in an act of racially-motivated domestic terrorism. To make matters worse, within four days at least two more mass shootings took place. One was at a predominantly Asian church in Laguna, California, and another at Temple University.

Police secure an area around a supermarket where several people were killed in a shooting
Police secure an area around a supermarket where several people were killed in a shooting, Saturday, May 14, 2022 in Buffalo, N.Y. Officials said the gunman entered the supermarket with a rifle and opened fire. Investigators believe the man may have been livestreaming the shooting and were looking into whether he had posted a manifesto online (Derek Gee/The Buffalo News via AP)

Schools and universities, unfortunately, are common targets for mass shootings. The proposed constitutional carry would allow those legally permitted to carry a gun to openly carry without needing a permit. In a state that had the deadliest high school shooting in America, it is extremely alarming that its governor wishes to loosen its already loose gun laws. Some pro-gun activists claim that arming more civilians will stop gun violence, but when has this been the case?

In response to the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, a bill was passed that allowed trained teachers to be armed. The logic behind that bill was confusing, not to mention dangerous, and failed to understand one of the key issues behind the acts of gun violence taking place in America. Arming more civilians does little, if anything, to deter consistent mass shootings.

The Buffalo shooter did not enter Tops unopposed. Upon releasing gunfire on the shoppers, he was met with gunshots from a trained security guard and former officer. However, given that he was covered in protective armor and carrying a much more powerful weapon, he withstood the bullets and returned fire, killing the security guard. When civilians are continuously able to access high-powered weapons, it makes it more difficult for the average officer, or teacher, carrying a handgun to apprehend them.

The University of North Florida (UNF) is no stranger to threats of gun violence. One was made on the social media app Yik Yak in February. Fortunately, as reported on UNF Safe Ospreys, it was determined that there was “no threat to the UNF community.”

Four police cars sit parked in the parking lot outside the UNF Thomas G. Carpenter Library.
Four police cars sit parked in the parking lot outside the UNF Thomas G. Carpenter Library. (Carter Mudgett)

As it stands currently, there isn’t a feeling of panic on the UNF campus. When asked about his feelings on the campus safety, student Michael Glime stated that he felt “reasonably safe on campus.” He added that he did understand that not everyone felt the same. Glime continued that he understood how “in the wake of the mass shooting in Buffalo and the frequency by which school shootings occur, one would be fearful.”

There is a growing sense of fear amongst Americans. However, the situation is not without hope. Stricter gun laws, increasing mental-health awareness and continuing to attack and discourage hateful and harmful rhetorics are all tools that can help in preventing mass shootings from happening.


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