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Florida Court Says University Cannot Ban Weapons in Vehicles on Campus

In a decision that could have consequences for all universities in Florida, a state appellate court has ruled that the University of North Florida cannot prohibit guns from being kept in cars parked on its campus.

The 12-to-3 decision, by the Florida Court of Appeal for the First District, came in a case brought by the gun-rights group Florida Carry Inc. and a North Florida student, Alexandria Lainez. Ms. Lainez wants to carry a firearm while traveling to and from the university, in Jacksonville, and to store the weapon in her vehicle while on the campus. She and Florida Carry argued that the university had no authority to impose its ban on weapons in vehicles because the Florida Constitution gives all regulatory power over firearms to the Legislature.

The appellate court’s majority opinion, written by Justice L. Clayton Roberts, agrees that the constitutional provision pre-empts the university’s regulation. “There are certain places where firearms can be legally prohibited,” Justice Roberts wrote. “But the Legislature has recognized that a citizen who is going to be in one of these places should be able to keep a firearm securely encased within his or her vehicle.”

University officials have previously said that almost every college in Florida has a similar policy toward firearms, The Florida Times-Union, a newspaper in Jacksonville, reported. University officials could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. The Associated Press reported that the university had not yet decided whether to appeal the ruling to the Florida Supreme Court.

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