TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida university is going to comply with a potentially far-reaching appeals court ruling that blocked state universities from regulating guns on campus.
The 1st District Court of Appeal in early December sided with a University of North Florida student and a gun rights group that had challenged a rule that banned students from storing guns in their cars.
UNF President John Delaney told students and faculty on Friday that the university would not appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court. He did not explain why. Delaney’s message also stated that, effective immediately, students could store guns in their cars.
Florida Carry, the group that helped bring the lawsuit against UNF, sent a notice Sunday to all Florida universities and colleges that it will sue any school that does not repeal similar rules by the start of the spring semester.
“This is the law of the land,” said Sean Carrana, executive director of Florida Carry.
A Florida State University spokeswoman said Monday the university would also immediately follow the ruling.
“Florida State University had a policy prohibiting weapons in vehicles, which it established after exercising what it thought was an applicable exemption to the state statute,” said Jeanette DeDiemar. “That policy is now void in light of the 1st District Court of Appeal’s decision.”
The appeals court decision stated that FSU, along with the University of Florida and the University of South Florida had regulations identical to UNF. A spokeswoman for Florida International University said Monday that the Miami-based university also had rules that prohibited keeping a gun in a car. A USF spokeswoman said Monday that the Tampa-based school’s policy is currently being reviewed and will be up for comment through the established channels.
Officials with UF did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Brittany Davis, a spokesman for the Florida Board of Governors, said that the State University System has not distributed the ruling to the universities. But Davis noted that not all universities have gun policies similar to the UNF policy.
Florida law currently makes it illegal to possess or exhibit guns at schools and universities and permits school districts to prohibit guns from being stored in cars. The court rejected arguments by UNF attorneys that universities, like school districts, could ban guns in cars.
The appeals court also ruled that universities must abide by a state law that pre-empts the regulation of guns by local governments and state agencies. The ruling notes that while universities have the power to restrict conduct like drinking or smoking on campus, that power does not extend to regulating guns.
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