Firearms – Student Discipline and Gun Rights | Gainesville Law Firm

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On December 10, 2013, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal considered whether a state university may prohibit the carrying of a securely encased firearm within a motor vehicle that is parked in a university campus parking lot. Ultimately, the Court determined that the legislature had not delegated its authority under the Florida Constitution to regulate the manner of bearing arms to state universities.

This case emerged when a university student wanted to store her firearm in her vehicle on campus while traveling to and from school (as a lawful method of self-defense). The university, however, had a regulation, banning the storage of any weapon (including firearms) in vehicles located on campus. In fact, the policy allowed the university to impose sanctions (including suspension and expulsion) on a student violating the regulation. Further, the policy allowed the university to refer the student to law enforcement for criminal prosecution. The student challenged the university regulation.

Fla. Stat. § 790.115, provides that “[f]irearms may not be possessed on school property, except when securely encased in a vehicle, but school districts may adopt policies to waive the secure encasement exception.” The university argued it was a “school district” within the meaning of the statute and it was authorized to waive the exception and entirely prohibit firearms on campus.

The First District Court of Appeal, however, disagreed and interpreted the statute based on its plain language and determined that the legislature intended to grant the power to issue waivers solely to “school districts” not to individual “schools,” and the university is not a school district.

*Florida Carry, Inc. v. University of North Florida*, 2013 WL 6480789 (Fla. 1st DCA Dec. 10, 2013).

Dell Graham has a team of attorneys experienced in representing educational institutions and government agencies. Please contact us for assistance.

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