Thursday, December 12, 2013
As we approach the one-year anniversary of the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting this weekend (it seems that so far the news media outlets are honoring the community request to stay away), we are no closer to gun reform. Of course, some would applaud this, arguing that there should be no encroachment on our 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.
Gun rights advocates are certainly applauding the December 10, 2013 decision from Florida's 1st District Court of Appeal. The case involved the University of North Florida's (UNF) gun ban on campus. A student challenged the university policy that guns could not be stored in vehicles that are parked on campus. The majority 12-3 opinion held that the policy was unlawful, especially considering UNF is a state institution. Florida law allows guns to be stored in vehicles, and the court indicated that this law trumps the policies and regulations of local governments and universities. The court also differentiated guns on college campuses from those on public school district grounds, where they are disallowed by law.
This story resonates with me because I have mixed feelings on the issue. After all, my law school was the site of a tragic and fatal shooting in 2002. While I was not teaching here at the time, the story that I have heard entails the shooter being subdued by a fellow student who retrieved a gun from his car. Advocates for guns would say that allowing guns on campuses likely saved lives due to the actions of this heroic student. On the other hand, opponents would argue that greater gun control measures might have prevented the shooter from getting access to the gun in the first instance.
As more shootings like Newtown occur, gun control will certainly become a heavily litigated issue. But for now, if you are not in the vicinity of Newtown CT this weekend to place a rose at the shooting site or on the grave of one of the 26 victims, perhaps planting a rose in remembrance is apropos.