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Lawmaker Tells Story of Using Gun to Prevent Rape

Michael Schumacher
Associated Press
Credit Michael Schumacher / Associated Press
Associated Press

When State Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilindawent to college, she brought a gun with her. She didn't think she'd need it.

This week, the Florida House's Higher Education and Workforce Subcommittee approved HB 4005, a bill that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns on Florida's college and university campuses.  

Vasilinda voted in favor of the legislation based on personal experience. 

She was the victim of an attempted rape while she was in college. She was able to get her gun and prevent the rape from happening. 

"I think my life might've had a different trajectory --a different path, and I might've been a different person today had that rape been perpetrated," she said. 

Ultimately, Vasilinda said, this bill is about self-defense.

State Rep.  Kristin Diane Jacobs, D-Coconut Creek, opposed the bill. 

"I do not believe that the answer to violence in America is more violence," she said. "The statistics on rape and violence and muggings--and any other thing we can talk about--haven't gone down because of people carrying guns."

The bill is sponsored by  State Rep.  Greg Steube, R-Sarasota. He said that without the measure, students and faculty are vulnerable to tragedy. 

"Gun free zones didn't stop Sandy Hook, they didn't stop the shooter at Florida State, they didn't stop the shooter[s] at Columbine, they didn't stop the shooter at Virginia Tech," Steube said. 

The bill has one more committee stop before a full vote in the House. A companion Senate bill, SB 176,  is also moving through committees this week. 

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Quincy J. Walters is a junior at USF, majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing. His interest in journalism spurred from the desire to convey compelling narratives. He has written for USF’s student paper, The Oracle and is currently the videographer for Creative Pinellas. If he’s not listening to NPR, he’s probably listening to Randy Newman.