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Email insights: Opponents look to rally against guns on campuses bill

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Florida’s controversial gun bill that would allow guns on college campuses has already passed one committee and will be heard in another next week. The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus is asking for help defeating the measure.

“The vast majority of Florida’s students and faculty don’t want guns in their classrooms or other buildings on campus,” wrote state director Kathryn Grant in an email. “We can defeat S.B. 176, but will need your help to fight the powerful and well-resourced Florida gun lobby.”

The bill sponsored by Republican Senator Greg Evers from Pensacola is scheduled in the Senate Higher Education and Workforce subcommittee Monday.

“Despite strong opposition from students, faculty, campus law enforcement, mental health professionals, parents, the Board of Trustees and all presidents within the state university system — this bill will advance, unless we raise our voices now!” Grant continued.

The bill would only apply to people on campus who have conceal carry permits, but the bill has still drawn outrage from gun control advocates.

The campaign is asking supporters to contact state lawmakers through a website already set up to distribute the communication to lawmakers. And this group is not messing around. In the short email there are four links to the same page.

On that page there is a pre-written letter urging Senators to vote “no” on the bill.

“As a Floridian, I urge you to preserve safety on Florida’s college campuses by opposing S.B. 176. This bill would allow people to carry concealed, loaded weapons anywhere on Florida’s college campuses,” the letter reads. “The campus environment should be one where additional risks are not created, such as adding loaded, concealed handguns that can be carried by students, faculty, staff and campus visitors.”

The letter concludes, “I trust that I can count on you to stand up for the safety of Florida’s college communities by voting NO on S.B. 176.”

Though the letter is already written, it can be altered or added to. Concerned Floridians are asked to “sign” the letter by filling in fields with their name, email and zip code.

That same page comes with another warning.

“SB 176 poses a significant public safety risk to Florida’s campus communities and fails to address the inevitable and substantial economic impact on tuition fees and other costs should this wrongheaded policy be implemented.

I need your help right away to stop SB 176 — a dangerous bill to allow concealed weapons on Florida’s campuses,” the web page reads.

An identical bill in the House sponsored by Greg Steube has also passed its first committee. It now sits in the House Higher Education and Workforce subcommittee.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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