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Guns on campus bill discussion delayed amid emotional scene

Sen. Greg Evers this morning postponed discussion of a controversial gun bill (SB 234) that, among other things, would allow people to carry weapons onto college campuses after the father of a killed Florida State University student showed up to oppose the bill at a Senate committee hearing.

Ashley Cowie, a 20-year-old sophomore studying interior design, was killed January 9, 2011 at a fraternity party when another student accidentally discharged a rifle, according to police.  Dr. Robert Cowie described the incident during emotional testimony, telling the Senate Criminal Justice Committee that a bullet from an AK-74 went through his daughter's chest and struck a second student. He held back tears as he said how Ashley's identical twin sister Amy tried to perform CPR at the party to keep her alive.  Amy was "looking at the whole in her sister's chest with blood gushing from her mouth and she knew she was already dead," Cowie said. "But she felt compelled to do something."

Alcohol was found in the system of the shooter, 20-year-old Evan Wilhelm, police said.

"Allowing guns in an atmosphere of college parties puts everyone involved at increased and undue risk," Cowie told senators. "Would you feel more or less at risk today if I were carrying a gun?"

The bill would also allow concealed weapons permit holders to carry their guns openly and take their guns into career centers, college or university campuses, and nonpublic elementary and secondary school facilities.

Marion Hammer, longtime lobbyist for the Unified Sportsmen of Florida and a former president of the NRA, said the legislation would not have affected the Cowie's situation because Wilhelm is under 21 and could not get a concealed weapons permit. "There's a lot of safety by allowing guns on campus," she said. "That's how a lot of us protect ourselves because law enforcement can't be there when we need them. Law enforcement is not stopping rapes on campus, and not stopping a lot of crimes."

Florida State University police chief David L. Perry said he opposes the legislation. "It's our job to police the campus and keep people safe," he said. "It's not the students' responsibility."

Cowie said he did not know Florida was proposing to change a law that would allow guns on campus until recently. He spoke with the bill sponsor, Evers, just before the committee hearing began. Evers asked to see Cowie's statement. Then, Evers decided to postpone discussion of the bill.

Evers, R-Baker, said after the committee meeting that discussion was delayed on the bill because of time concerns, not because of Cowie's appearance. The committee also considered a bill that would make it illegal for doctors to ask patients if they own guns, and heard a presentation on privatizing more of the state prison system. Evers said SB 234 will get a hearing.

"I haven't really stopped and thought about (making changes)," Evers said. "He had some moving testimony and we're very sorry for his loss."


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What a despicable "man" Dr. Cowie is. His daughter was killed by the criminal negligence of an idiot, so we must all be collectively punished and disarmed? Disgusting.


It was a rifle used at FSU, not a handgun.

The bill is introduced to protect your person with a handgun, not your home.


Two things make his story, while heartbreaking, still irrelevant:

1 - The law isn't about drunk students keeping AK-74s in their rooms, it's about allowing licensed law abiding citizens who can already carry a concealed handgun with them virtually everywhere else they go to do so on campus as well.

2 - The fact that this incident happened while possession of the gun on campus was ILLEGAL shows that the current law does absolutely nothing to prevent this kind of tragedy. Prohibiting responsible licensed law abiding people from carrying their concealed handguns for self-defense does exactly zero to prevent irresponsible idiots who are already willing to break the law from bringing guns onto campus and doing stupid or criminal things with them.

Had the moron with the AK decided to go on a killing spree on campus one day, the current law obviously would have done nothing at all to stop him. It would simply have prevented anyone else from stopping him.

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What a jerk. And his tagline on his website is:

"May God bless you and keep your family safe"



And all of you who think you're gonna go stop a gunman with your own little gun are absolute idiots.


@ donna I beg to differ look into what happened before students who weree allowed to carry fire arms in their car was able to stop a gunman on campus.. Besides I am trained on when and how to use my firearm I am not a 2 bit thug I am trained and I know what to do... Besides even if I wasnt armed I would still run twoards the shooting to stop the criminal. My life is worth many of lives.

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