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Politics

St. Pete College is latest to face gun rights lawsuit

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Published:   |   Updated: March 5, 2014 at 10:36 AM

TAMPA — A gun-rights group has sued St. Petersburg College, making the school the latest target in a statewide campaign to overturn bans on guns stored in cars in campus parking lots.

Florida Carry Inc., a Lehigh Acres-based group, filed suit Monday in circuit court in Pinellas County asserting that policies included in SPC’s student and employee codes of conduct and other rules violate state law.

Florida Carry brings the weight of an appellate court ruling from December after the group sued the University of North Florida in Duval County. A lower court threw out the suit, but an appeals court in Tallahassee took up the case and ruled that the state Legislature has exclusive responsibility for gun policy.

State law prohibits firearms on college campuses, but the appeals court ruled that individual campus policies banning weapons stored in vehicles went too far.

“It’s a very, very simple equation that they’re not going to have to bring to their math departments to figure out,” said Sean Caranna, executive director of Florida Carry. “If they don’t comply with Florida gun laws, we will sue them and demand compliance.”

The suit against SPC, filed Monday, names as defendants the school, its board of trustees, President Bill Law and an employee identified as “Larry Doe.”

The latter refers to a security staffer who verbally told a Florida Carry member by telephone that it was a violation of SPC policy for a student to possess a gun in their personal vehicle on campus.

An SPC spokeswoman said the college had not yet been served with the suit and declined comment.

The University of South Florida, Florida State University and other institutions have since relaxed their gun policies to reflect the court decision. Florida Carry lawsuits against the University of Florida and Eastern Florida State College in Cocoa are active.

jstockfisch@tampatrib.com

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