Student takes FSU to court over gun policies at games

FSU game

An FSU student allied with gun rights groups is seeking to bring her gun to this weekend’s upcoming game at Doak Campbell Stadium. (Photo: Melina Vastola-USA Today Sports)

Florida State University is facing a lawsuit from a student backed by a local pro-gun group over its ban on firearms at Seminoles games.

FSU grad student Bekah Hargrove, joined by Students for Concealed Carry and Florida Carry filed suit Tuesday asking for an injunction against university President John Thrasher, the school itself and campus police Chief David Perry to allow guns in vehicles at this weekend’s football game.

The plaintiffs argue the school has no legal standing to enact the ban, pointing to a 2013 decision by a Florida appeals court that state universities do not have the power to prohibit law-abiding gun owners from keeping loaded firearms in their vehicles while on campus.

The school points to increased game attendance, with upwards of 85,000 or more fans on hand for Seminoles’ football games at Doak Campbell Stadium, which in turn has led to increased safety concerns. The university stated earlier this month that weapons are not permitted to be stored in a vehicle on the FSU campus at any time, including game days.

“These publications are a blatant attempt by FSU President Thrasher, and his anti-Second Amendment employees, to enforce illegal gun control with the threat of throwing good people in jail for the lawful exercise of their right to bear arms,” said Sean Caranna, executive director of Florida Carry, in a statement to “We demand that public officials follow the law and will stand for nothing less.”

The 68-page lawsuit, filed in the Second Judicial Circuit in Tallahassee this week, cites Florida Carry members to include Hargrove fear felony arrest and prosecution due to the existence of the school’s policies, which they contend are in excess of state’s gun laws, thus violating existing preemption rules. They are therefore seeking an emergency order to allow guns in trunks for the Sept. 12 game against the University of South Florida as a lead up to a hearing on FSU’s firearms policy in general.

The school was the site of a shooting inside the Strozier Library last November that saw three injured before responding police killed the gunman. One of those injured was a concealed carry permit supporter who couldn’t legally carry his gun on campus.

In 2011, the gun rights group took the University of North Florida on largely the same grounds, which led to a ruling from a state appeals court to allow guns in parking lots on UNF’s campus.

“The university does not have the right to pass rules and regulations about who may have firearms,” Florida Carry attorney Eric Friday said at the time.

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