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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Controversial language in Sen. Evers' campus guns bill removed



The most controversial part of SB 234, Sen. Greg Evers' bill that would have allowed people to carry guns on elementary schools and college campuses, among other places, was deleted during a Senate committee Wednesday.

The committee brought up the bill at the end of its two-hour meeting but did not have time to take a vote. More than 100 observers packed the Senate committee room, including several university police chiefs who oppose the legislation.

The bill in its original form would have allowed concealed weapons permit holders to carry their guns openly and take them into career centers, nonpublic elementary and secondary school facilities, as well as colleges and universities.

Sen. Paula Dockery offered amendments removing schools, colleges and universities from the venues where concealed carry would be permitted, citing an overwhelming lobbying response by students, parents and law enforcement.

Evers said after the meeting that he was OK with the bill in its revised form. Tea Party activists and other proponents urged him after the meeting to continue fighting for open carry.

Discussion of the bill evoked an emotional scene during its original stop in this committee Feb. 22, when the father of Ashley Cowie, an FSU student fatally shot during a fraternity party in January, spoke against allowing students to have guns on campus.

"Allowing guns in an atmosphere of college parties puts everyone involved at increased and undue risk," Cowie said then. "Would you feel more or less at risk today if I were carrying a gun?"

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 5:50pm]


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