ORLANDO, Fla. - State Rep. Anthony Sabatini says allowing guns on college campuses would allow concealed-carry permit holders the chance to defend their campus and he's filed a bill in the Florida House that would allow students to carry on campus.
Sabatini, a Republican, represents District 32 that includes the Howey in the Hills area. He introduced the same bill last year but it went nowhere.
"This exact bill passed the Florida House three years ago," Sabatini said. "But then the Florida Senate killed it, but I believe it should be filed until it passes."
Sabatini said in light of three mass shootings in less than a week's time, he's hoping it will gain some traction.
However, one fellow representative from Central Florida is speaking out against it.
"It is the wrong direction," said State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-District 47. "We should not have access to more guns, especially on a college campus where it can mix with alcohol making it more risky."
Eskamani said she does not see eye to eye with her Republican House counterpart and neither did others at a vigil against gun violence Friday at Joy Metropolitan Community Church in Orlando.
The event was organized to remember and honor those killed in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas last weekend during separate mass shootings.
"I'm not for guns in the hands of most people," said Pastor Terri Pierce, "except the military and police officers or sheriffs or things like that."
Many people at the vigil agreed that there is a reason the same campus-concealed weapon bill keeps failing each time it is proposed.
"We should be focused on comprehensive background checks," Eskamani said.
However, in a phone interview with News 6 on Friday, Sabatini said laws that ban conceal carry permit holders from being able to intervene aren't protecting anyone.
"I think it is the most arbitrary, irrational, silly law in the state of Florida," Sabatini said. "It makes giant sprawling campuses like University of Florida soft targets."
The Florida lawmaker says he believes those with concealed weapons permits should be able to carry their handguns on campus.
Now that the bill has been filed, he hopes someone on the Florida Senate will pick it up and write a Senate version of the bill.
"Those people keep the campus more safe, because they turn the campus from a soft target, which is attractive to a mass shooter or psychotic individual, into a hard target, because they know someone will be firing back at them," Sabatini said.
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