A bill to allow guns on college campuses is gaining steam. It would apply to the state’s public colleges so private schools like Saint Leo University don’t have to follow suit and it says it has no plans to.

As the bill to allow guns on campus gets closer to the governor’s desk the debate on the issue is heating up.

Dr. Robert Diemer, the director of graduate studies criminal justice at Saint Leo has 35 years of experience in law enforcement and said it is a safety issue, especially in active shooter situations.

“When police come to the scene and they see people with guns, if they know they are not police, they could potentially appear to be the aggressor and could become a casualty of the situation,” said Dr. Diemer.

He’s a supporter of the right to bear arms but is concerned about the lack of training and whether a person would take it upon themselves to stop an active shooter. Some students on campus agree.

“How do I know who’s carrying a gun or if they are even allowed to have a gun,” said student Jessica Lobianco.  

“It would definitely make me feel uncomfortable, I’d be locking my doors at night more,” said student Phillip Moss.

Saint Leo University recently polled 522 Floridians.

  • 56% were against guns on campus
  • 36% percent were for it
  • The rest were unsure

Nationally groups supporting guns on campus are sprouting up like “Florida Students for Concealed Carry.” The group says not being able to carry guns on campus gives criminals the upper-hand.
Still no matter what happens with the bill, some students at Saint Leo are just glad they go to a private university and it won’t affect them. "It does make me feel a lot better, that's one of the perks of going to a private school is they can kind of make their own rules in a way," said Lobianco.
Under Florida law, you have to be 21-years-old to carry a gun. That means not every student would be allowed to carry. The bill has passed through several hurdles and is now in the committee process.