Florida’s proposed “Campus Carry” legislation by Rep. Greg Steube and Sen. Greg Evers isn’t only about restoring a constitutional right, it is fundamental to the safety of college students, especially women. I know the dangers of being a woman on a university campus.
My father escaped Cuba to come to this country so his children could have freedom, not for his daughters to become victims because our constitutional freedoms were stripped from us while getting an education.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports 20 percent to 25 percent of female college students are victimized by rape — that is about one in five. Further, one-third of the rapes occur on college campuses. Those facts are being swept under the rug by colleges and universities. If gun-free zones and whistles worked, why are so many women still being raped?
As a woman licensed to carry a firearm for protection, I can defend myself off campus, but the second I step on campus, I no longer have the right to defend myself. I must surrender my constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Effectively, I become a ward of the university, but the university has no legal duty or responsibility for my safety.
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In fact, they hide behind sovereign immunity that protects them from civil suits and criminal prosecution for failing to protect me.
A college campus isn’t holy ground that is free from alcohol, drugs, guns, rapists and violent criminals. Rather, as a gun-free zone it is a haven for rapists and violent criminals, leaving law-abiding students defenseless.
Claiming license holders will stress out from school work and increase gun violence on campus is worn-out rhetoric. Responsible adult students and faculty members carry in grocery stores, coffee shops, department stores, parks, hiking trails and all over town every day. Yet, gun violence hasn’t increased at any of these places. In fact, statistics show that licensed gun owners are far more responsible than the general population.
Further, it is shocking that some women fight for the right to choose to make decisions about their own bodies, then turn around and lobby against allowing women to choose to carry a firearm to protect their bodies from rape and violent assault.
The issue comes down to whether you support the right to carry on campus or whether you support rapists having free access to unarmed victims. It’s that simple.
“Campus Carry” is about choosing not to be a victim. I do not want to be a victim, and the state should not force me to be one.
Rebekah Hargrove, president, Students for Concealed Carry, FSU, Tallahassee