TALLAHASSEE — A gun rights group is suing the University of Florida for banning guns in campus housing. The lawsuit comes on the heels of a similar suit against the University of North Florida's ban on guns in cars.
In early December, the 1st District Court of Appeal sided with a UNF student and gun rights group Florida Carry that challenged a rule banning students from storing guns in their cars.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports UF officials said in a written statement they had been in talks with Florida Carry last week and were stunned by the lawsuit.
UF got rid of its ban on guns in cars to comply with the ruling, but had left in place a strict ban on firearms elsewhere on campus. Campus residents can store their guns, unloaded, at the university's police station if they have permission. Anyone bringing a gun to the station is required to follow a specific street route to get there.
More than 75 people have stored guns at the station, according to media reports.
"They didn't object to the steps we have taken to comply with the court's decision, and they never raised the issue of guns in the home, which was not the subject of the court's decision," UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said in a statement.
After last month's ruling Florida Carry sent a notice 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.
"We take no joy in filing lawsuits," founder Sean Caranna said. "I wish it was not a necessary part of what our organization does. But it is a stark reality in the fight to protect the right to bear arms."
After the ruling, UNF president John Delaney told students and faculty the university would not appeal the ruling; and stated that, effective immediately, students could store guns in their cars.
Florida State University officials also said the university would immediately follow the ruling.
Florida law 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.