The University of South Florida, the University of Florida and other state universities had no choice but to start allowing guns to be stored in parked cars on their campuses. An appeals court opinion last month forced their hand. Now the schools are in the uncomfortable position of allowing guns to be stored in cars while simultaneously upholding a prohibition of guns on campus and at campus events. It's the law, but that doesn't make it right.
The policy change, which took effect at USF this week, comes after a University of North Florida student filed a lawsuit against that school in 2011, saying she should be allowed to keep her gun in her car. Backed by a gun-rights organization, the student said she needed the firearm for self-defense. A trial court sided with the university. But in December, the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned the ruling, saying the university's regulations prohibiting guns on campus did not supersede state law, which allows — with some exceptions — guns to be stored securely in vehicles.
In the hands of a more thoughtful Legislature unafraid of the National Rifle Association, the law would be rewritten. Instead, universities must adhere to state law that runs counter to their efforts to keep guns off campuses and makes them less safe.