Sarasota County Jail had an extra inmate this month when a local man decided to bring a loaded and cocked .45 caliber pistol to a high school football game. Law enforcement officials were alerted to the presence of the man and his weapon when he began menacing fans at the Riverview High School game with vulgar gestures and curses. One such fan noticed a gun under the man’s shirt and alerted deputies to the presence of the firearm and the erratic individual who was concealing it.
During the confrontation, the man made derogatory comments regarding the ethnicity of one of the deputies before making further threats. Upon additional inspection, law enforcement officials found more weapons in the man’s car. He had apparently also been present at another game only days earlier.
Guns on campus are illegal in Florida
While concern about violence on campus usually focuses on students bringing weapons to school, current laws don’t differentiate with regard to who is carrying the firearm. Under Florida law, it is even illegal for those with concealed-carry permits to bring their guns to any public school, private academic institution or college, except when they receive approval or are carrying the weapon for a firearm program or class. The law also covers professional athletic events and preschools of all types.
How far is too far?
The recent Sarasota case notwithstanding, some argue that caution can go too far. While everyone agrees that school violence, attacks and shootings in particular are a major issue in this day and age, identifying real dangers should remain a priority. The recent suspension of an 8-year-old Florida boy for pointing his finger like a gun and making noises suggests that at a certain point vigilance may become unjustified paranoia with absurd outcomes.
According to school district officials, the current code of conduct prohibits play with invisible guns. Many wonder whether a zero-tolerance policy must extend to children’s imaginations as well, especially in light of the increase in real shootings at high schools, such as the recent incident at Plant High School in Tampa.
Since gun charges can bring stiff penalties in Florida and mandatory sentences for some offenses, prepared, tough criminal lawyers are a must.