Some Central Florida college students are pushing for their right to bear arms, with allowances to not only bring weapons onto campus, but also into the classroom.
The idea is growing in popularity in other parts of the country, and now it's catching on at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach.
Students for Concealed Carry are hoping for a change in state laws and school policy regulating concealed weapons, just months after a robbery took place in close proximity to campus dormitories. A robber took the wallets from some people as they passed through a parking lot. No one was injured, but the incident still weighs heavy on the minds of some students.
"It just makes me feel awfully vulnerable when that kind of stuff happens," said freshman Connor Brown. "Our campus is very open, so anyone can come through whenever they please."
Embry-Riddle has a number of public roads that run right through campus, which is one of reasons why Connor said he has joined the sixty or so other students who belong to Students for Concealed Carry at ERAU. It's a nationwide movement, and this is its newest chapter.
"We wish to help at state level efforts to change legislation," said chapter president Steve McClellan. "Even if we never get to reap the benefits of our own actions, we wish to help others do the same."
McClellan, 29, lives off campus and has a concealed weapons permit. He wants to be allowed to bring his weapon onto campus and even into classrooms. He thinks university students everywhere should be allowed to do so and cites the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting as an example of why.
"It's one of the few places in the state you are not allowed to carry, and it's one of the few places where criminals know that," he said.
"Whenever I'm off campus, I'm carrying 24/7," said the chapters vice president Eric Coggin. "But during my days on campus, if I come by the school for any reason, I can't have my gun with me. It can't even be in the car."
That 's the law in Florida and most other states. Other students we spoke to on campus tell us that's the way it should stay.
"Things can get out of control," said exchange student Mariana Baratto. "It's just too dangerous!"
Junior Yuchen Liu said, "If you have guns, things can go worse. I don't really agree."
Embry-Riddle released an official statement which, in short, says that the school's current policy is no weapons or weapon replicas on campus, and they don't anticipate changing that.