In the wake of key events like the Orlando shooting, The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus has intensified its work this summer. We have undertaken discrete new initiatives to convert the tide of public opinion against gun violence into real, lasting policy change – and to build on The Campaign’s legislative victories earlier this year, in states like Florida and Georgia. In just the last two months, these novel efforts include:
- Response to Orlando: We have partnered with, and provided expertise to, the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence to call for restrictions on assault weapons and expanded background checks. We helped to draft the Coalition letter calling on the Florida legislature to convene for a special session, and also published an op-ed on assault weapons in the Orlando Sentinel.
- Responding in Texas and Tennessee: With major victories against campus carry bills in Georgia and Florida earlier this year, we have also continued to work in states that have passed such bills. In Texas, we have advocated the universities to implement campus carry narrowly, achieving a victory with the upholding of UT-Austin’s continuing ban on firearms in faculty offices. In Tennessee, we have advocated with university administrators for a toolbox of measures to ensure public safety in a campus carry environment.
As we dedicate additional resources to these new efforts – and reflect on our victories in our mid-year update – we ask for your help to support our work. In doing so – and in the wake of the escalating violence in our country, from Orlando, to Baton Rouge, to Dallas – I am reminded now more than ever of the famous speech that Robert F. Kennedy delivered the day after Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated:
What we need in the United States is not hatred … not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.
Unfortunately, nearly 50 years later, these words serve as much an urgent call to action as ever: our society must act swiftly to identify ways to reduce the violence. As The Campaign takes on this call to action in new ways, and builds on its previous work, we hope that you will consider contributing.
OUR MID YEAR UPDATE
We’ve reached the 2016 mid-point and most of the state legislatures have adjourned for the year. Here’s what we’ve been working on.
Legislative victories against guns on campus: Florida and Georgia
Florida: Our coalition efforts in Florida successfully defeated guns on campus legislation for the second year in a row, thanks to hard work and strong opposition expressed by campus communities and concerned citizens across the state. We continued to work closely with faculty and student leaders, and established the first campus chapter of the Campaign To Keep Guns Off Campus at Florida State University.
Georgia: In Georgia, our coalition work lead to the historic veto by Governor Deal of HB 859 in early May. Working with our partners, we launched a veto campaign that in 40 days delivered tens of thousands of petition signatures, letters from faculty, students and parents, and drove thousands of phone calls and emails from concerned citizens across the state. We also published an op-ed in the Athens Banner-Herald, the ideas of which were ultimately incorporated into Governor Deal’s strong veto statement. The outcome of the strongest opposition effort that the state has ever seen was a successful defeat of legislation that would have risked the lives of Georgia’s campus communities.
Cyclists Ride 400 miles and Deliver 40,000 Signatures to Congress in April
In April, we collaborated with Team 26 and other gun violence prevention advocates to call on Congress to tighten our gun laws and keep guns off campus. Team 26 (a group of 26 cyclists, including our Western Director, Julie Gavran, formed after the Sandy Hook Tragedy) helped carry our national petition with 40,000 signatures over 400 miles to Congress and Vice President Biden.
Can you chip in with a tax-deductible donation of $10 today to help continue our important work this Summer and Fall?
Advocacy to implement campus carry law narrowly: The Legal Action Project (LAP)
Texas: We provided a legal interpretation to SB 11 (new guns on campus law taking effect on August 1st) to University Presidents and Working Groups and began outreach to community colleges along the same lines. In addition, we urged the Texas Board of Regents to affirm UT – Austin’s recommendations that faculty be allowed to exclude concealed weapons from their classrooms.
Tennessee: With a new campus carry law taking effect on July 1st allowing full-time university employees to carry, we built a tool box of regulations and mechanisms for colleges to consider that can limit the scope and harm of guns on campus in states implementing this harmful policy.
Response to Orlando: partnering with the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence
The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus is now part of a broad coalition effort comprised of over 90 different organizations around the state, led by the League of Women Voters of Florida. Together, we are calling on Florida’s lawmakers to address the Pulse Night Club Shooting by passing legislation to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, while tightening the state’s background check system (see letter).
Op-Eds and Media: opposing guns on campus, calling for an assault weapons ban in Florida.
- Indiscriminate killers are beyond 2nd Amendment, Orlando Sentinel, July 20, 2016
- Point: With Guns on Campus, No Crime Will Be Deterred and No Mass Shootings Will Be Stopped, Inside Sources, June 17, 2016
- Campus-carry could threaten governor’s legacy, Athens Banner-Herald, April 25, 2016
Spring Benefit at Tavern on the Green in NYC (March 9th) – Many thanks to our supporters.
Our honorees: (Top l-r) Hogan Lovells, pro bono parnter, Michael Brawer, Association of Florida Colleges, White & Case, pro bono partner
(Bottom l-r) Jennifer Proffitt, United Faculty of Florida, Covington & Burling, pro bono partner
Bills to force colleges to allow guns on campus were introduced in 17 states this year and were defeated in all but one (TN) with a few states still pending (MI & OH). Guns on campus continues to garner more attention and we are identifying ways to better inform the public, while also developing stronger networks of faculty leaders this Summer and early Fall so that we are ready for 2017.
In closing, we are committed to working with our fellow advocates in Florida to push for lasting policy change in the wake of the Pulse Night Club Shooting and are working with other advocates in other states across the country and on the federal level in our shared mission to reduce gun violence.
There is much to do in the latter part of this Summer and Fall and we could use your help.
Please consider a tax-deductible donation of $10 today >>