Pro-gun group takes FSU to court over firearm policy

FSU has more than 32,000 undergraduate students, and an on-going series of skirmishes with a state Second Amendment organization over gun policies. (Photo: FSU)

FSU has more than 32,000 undergraduate students and an on-going series of skirmishes with a state Second Amendment organization over gun policies. (Photo: FSU)

Florida State University is facing a lawsuit from a local pro-gun group over its ban on firearms in vehicles. FSU President John Trasher, no stranger to lawsuits brought against him by Florida Carry, was named in the new legal challenge from the group filed last week in a Leon County court. The pro-gun member organization contends the public university’s policy on the storage of ammunition and some types of guns inside private on-campus vehicles doesn’t jibe with state law.

“The new issues deal with the university’s rules and regulations regarding the storage of long guns such as rifles and shotguns in a vehicle, and the prohibition of ammunition in a vehicle,” said Florida Carry attorney Eric Friday. “We hope that the court will require FSU and President Thrasher to comply with state law and quit lying to students in telling them what state law clearly allows them to do.”

The university’s 32-page Student Conduct Code contends it is in compliance with the state’s statute concerning guns on school property. However, Florida Carry argues there is nothing in on the books that allow for a prohibition of long arms or ammo in a private vehicle. Contending they have numerous members who attend the school, the group says those members fear arrest if they practice their protected right to have a rifle or shotgun in their vehicle.

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.

Florida Carry, backing up a local student, filed a lawsuit against the school in 2015 after FSU posted that weapons were not permitted to be stored in a vehicle on campus at any time – including events at Doak Campbell Stadium – potentially affecting the gun rights of some 85,000 or more fans on hand for Seminoles’ games. The school backpedaled on that policy within a week, chalking it up to a mistake.

The university was the site of a shooting in 2014 that left three injured and the gunman dead. Thrasher has repeatedly lobbied against campus carry proposals in the state legislature in the past several years.

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