Florida Carry sues the University of Florida for illegal ban on guns and other defensive weapons in cars and homes

On January 10th, 2014 Florida Carry, Inc. filed a lawsuit against the University Florida (UF), seeking a permanent injunction to protect the rights of students, faculty, and the public from the university's illegal and unconstitutional regulations prohibiting firearms and weapons on all university property. Since 1987 the Florida Legislature has preempted firearms law and issued state-wide licenses to carry for self-defense.  In December Florida Carry won a similar case against the University of North Florida (UNF).  In Florida Carry v. UNF the First District Court of Appeal ruled that "The legislature’s primacy in firearms regulation derives directly from the Florida Constitution... Indeed, the legislature has reserved for itself the whole field of firearms regulation in section 790.33(1)..."  No public college or university has any authority to prevent students and the public from having a functional firearm in places that are constitutionally protected or permitted under state law.

The University of Florida has failed to comply with the court's ruling by doing nothing more than adding an "Intent" footnote to one of its illegal policies. Florida Carry Executive Director Sean Caranna reached out to UF President Bernie Machen in an attempt to avert the need for legal action.  Mr. Caranna's call was returned by the university's General Counsel who refused to take our concerns about UF's illegal policies and regulations seriously and was dismissive of our plea that they work with us to craft a legal set of regulations.  Florida Carry was left with no choice but to file this case.

Any public college or university which attempts to restrict the statutory and fundamental right to keep and bear arms in Florida is subject to enforcement actions by organizations such as Florida Carry. In addition to enforcing the clearly established right of students to lawfully store functional firearms in their personal vehicles on campus, Florida Carry seeks to protect the right to possess firearms and other defensive weapons in the home.  In the landmark 2008 Heller case the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that bans on the possession of functional arms in the home are unconstitutional.  Nationwide, millions of adult university faculty, students, and their families live in university owned or managed housing.  The fact that state housing facilities run by Florida Universities continue to deprive law abiding adults of their fundamental right to keep and bear arms in their homes, years after the clear decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court that such bans are unconstitutional, is unconscionable.

On Wednesday July 30th, 2014 Circuit Court Judge Toby S. Monaco granted motions to dismiss and for summary judgment in favor of his alma mater and granted sovereign immunity to UF President Manchen. The lower court Judge ignored the plain language of multiple Florida firearms laws, multiple binding court cases, turned to blind eye to university policies that are in continued violation, and refused to conduct any analysis of the right to keep and bear arms.  This is the same failure to follow the law and uphold the fundamental right to keep and bear arms that we saw from the lower court in our case against the University of North Florida prior to winning the landmark Florida Carry v. UNF case in the 1st District Court of Appeals late last year.

As before, Florida Carry will appeal to the First District Court of Appeals in this case to protect the rights to keep and to bear arms.

Docket Overview: Lower Court Case Number: 01 2014-CA-000142
Alachua County Clerk of the Circuit Court

Lower Court Filings: 

01/10/2014 - Plaintiff's Complaint
01/31/2014 - Defendants' Motion to Dismiss - Standing
02/21/2014 - Plaintiff's Amended Complaint
04/02/2014 - Defendant Manchen's Motion to Dismiss
04/02/2014 - Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgement
07/16/2014 - Plaintiff's Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgement
07/24/2014 - Hearing on Motions
07/30/2014 - Circuit Court's Order:

  1. Any and all claims for damages against Defendant Machen are STRICKEN due to Machen’s immunity from suit for such claims. There are presently no claims for relief in the nature of civil fines against Machen. Defendant Machen’s motion to dismiss is otherwise denied.
  2. Plaintiff’s “Motor Vehicle” claims against Defendants are DISMISSED due to the absence of any present “case or controversy” invoking this Court’s jurisdiction.
  3. Summary judgment is hereby entered in favor of Defendants with respect to Plaintiff’s “Housing Claims”. Defendants are not violating Florida law by recognizing the legislature’s prohibition against firearms in housing located on university property pursuant to § 790.115(2)(a).

08/11/2014 - Plaintiff’s Motion for Reconsideration
08/11/2014 - Plaintiff’s Motion for Rehearing
08/13/2014 - Defendants' Response to Motions for Rehearing and Reconsideration
09/05/2014 - Circuit Court's Order Denying Rehearing/Reconsideration with Clarification
10/06/2014 - Plaintiffs' Notice of Appeal


Docket Overview: Appellate Court Case Number:  1D14-4614
Florida First District Court of Appeal Docket

 Appellate Court Filings:

Date Docketed
Date Due
Filed By
10/07/2014 Lower Court Order Appealed     2 orders
10/07/2014 Notice of Appeal Filed   Eric J. Friday 797901  
01/26/2015 Plaintiff’s Initial Brief 01/26/2015 Eric J. Friday 797901  
02/24/2015 Defendants' Answer Brief 02/24/2015 Barry Richard 0105599  
04/29/2015 Plaintiff’s Reply Brief 04/29/2015 Eric J. Friday 797901  
10/30/2015 1DCA Order    

[W]hile section 790.25(3)(n) provides that possession of firearms in a home is a lawful use, the statute also now provides that possession of firearms on school property is not authorized. ... the Legislature made no exception in section 790.115 pertaining to university housing.

While the Legislature may choose to one day amend the current law to permit firearms in university housing, our interpretation of the pertinent statutes leads us to the conclusion that it has not yet done so.

We agree with [Florida Carry] that the trial court erred in granting the motion to dismiss on the basis of [sovereign immunity].

Pending Motion for Rehearing/Rehearing En Banc 11/16/2015 Eric J. Friday 797901  
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