In the wake of a shooting last week on Eastern Florida State College's Palm Bay campus, the college said it's revising its campuswide ban on guns, and will allow students and faculty with concealed carry permits keep firearms in their cars parked on campus.
Word has spread quickly about the Brevard County college's decision to change its concealed weapons policy after a lawsuit from a gun rights group.
The shooting happened on the Palm Bay campus last Thursday. Police said a student was attacked near his car in the parking lot by a man and his brother.
The student told police they beat him with a pool cue, and claimed in self-defense, he pulled a handgun out of his car and shot one of the men in the chest, sending him to the hospital.
Classes at Eastern Florida State College, formerly known as Brevard Community College until last year, were cancelled until Monday.
On Monday night, the gun rights group Florida Carry announced a lawsuit against the college, claiming its ban on firearms in your personal car on school grounds is unconstitutional.
The same organization sued the University of North Florida about the same issue in December and won. The First District Court of Appeals ruled 12–3 that colleges and universities cannot regulate guns kept safely in their vehicles while on campus.
Florida law currently prevents anyone from possessing or exhibiting guns on school campuses, including university and college campuses.
That same law, however, says the automatic ban doesn't apply to guns kept in cars. School districts had the option to adopt policies to prohibit guns in cars parked on campus. UNF attorneys tried to argue that the university falls under this exception, but that position was rejected by a majority of the court.
Eastern Florida State officials said Tuesday morning they are revising their gun ban policy to comply with the recent court ruling.
Student opinions are mixed.
"We come here to learn. We come here to better ourselves," said student Lisa Joy Berry. "We don't need to be worried about who is carrying what, when or what's going to happen, worried about 'Are we safe? Are my kids safe? Am I going to come in here and walk out at the end of the day?'"
"If you are given the right, and you are responsible enough by getting the certain certifications you need to carry a firearm, concealed or not, in your car, I believe you should be able to on campus," said student Brett Stebbins.
We asked Florida Carry for a statement. Executive Director Sean Caranna told us, "At this point we are in initial negotiations with the college and hope to settle the issue."
School officials said the student involved in the shooting was back to full-time status, and revisions to the gun ban policy should be complete and in place by the end of the week.
Eastern Florida State's associated vice president of communications, John J. Glisch, said school leaders made the decision before they knew about the lawsuit from Florida Carry.