[UPDATE] FSU Father Speaks Out Against Loosening Gun Laws

By: Jill Chandler Email
By: Jill Chandler Email

UPDATE 3/9/11

Florida Police Chiefs issued a release stating their opposition to Senate Bill 234. The open letter can be found in PDF format above.


As students are still shocked by Ashley Cowie's death, lawmakers are reviewing legislation that would make it legal for people with a concealed weapons license to have their guns on campus. Ashley's family and friends said passing the bill would be a big mistake.

Dr. Robert Cowie remembers his daughter with the fondest memories. "She was in the school of interior design, a sophomore, on the deans list," he said.

Dr. Robert Cowie spoke in front of a Senate committee Tuesday to make sure other families don't have to endure a tragedy like the one his family is faced with.

Cowie apologized for reading off of his notes Tuesday, but still couldn't hold back his emotions. His hands were shaking and tears filled the eyes of people in the audience.

"There's a lot of emotion in there. I hope it resonated with the Senators, because this wasn't sort of facts and figures, this was a personal incident where someone lost a loved one," said Dustin Daniels, Student Body President at Florida State.

Police believe Evan Wilhelm was under the influence of alcohol when he accidentally shot and killed Dr. Cowie's daughter Ashley.

Dr. Cowie told Senators he believes guns on campus should be left for campus police, not students. He says students are all too frequently drinking and doing drugs.

Florida State Police Chief David Perry said, "It's our job to police the campus and keep them safe. It's not the students."

The NRA is on record supporting this bill, and when asked their spokesperson to comment on Dr. Cowie's testimony today she took off the microphone and refused to speak.

And the NRA seems to also have the support of Florida's Governor.

Governor Rick Scott said, "I believe in the right to bear arms. I believe its a fundamental right, and I will defend the right to bear arms."

But Dr. Cowie hopes his message will help spread the word. He said, "If the voters in their home districts understand what the senators are being faced to vote upon, they will be overwhelmed with emails, and phone calls, and letters to their senators to vote against this."

The bill was temporarily postponed Tuesday. Ashley's classmates were not able to speak against the bill, but legislators allowed Dr. Cowie to speak since he traveled from the Jacksonville area. The bill will be brought up again during session.

The father of an FSU student killed in an accidental shooting testifies before a senate committee.

20-year-old Ashley Cowie was shot and killed on January 9th, and now her father is speaking out to help prevent other families from having to endure the grief he's dealing with.

Senate Bill 234 would allow guns on college campuses in Florida. Chairman Greg Evers postponed the bill, but they allowed Ashley Cowie's father to testify.

This morning, Dr. Robert Cowie told senators that safety on campus should be left to police officers. He says college aged students, who are exposed to drugs and alcohol should not be permitted to carry guns on campus.

Evan Wilhelm was under the influence of alcohol when he accidentally shot and killed Ashley Cowie.

Several of Ashley's classmates showed up for today's hearing to support her family. The students have vowed to fight against the bill to keep it from becoming law.

As Dr. Cowie testified he was shaking, and told everyone he had to go by his notes because he would be overcome by emotion. Many in the audience were wiping tears from their eyes as they heard the emotional story.

Dr. Cowie said almost two years ago he dropped Ashley off for college and helped unload her boxes, and he didn't realize he'd be bringing her home in a different box.

Senate 234: Firearms


Firearms; Provides that a person in compliance with the terms of a concealed carry license may carry openly notwithstanding specified provisions. Allows the Division of Licensing of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to take fingerprints from concealed carry license applicants. Limits a prohibition on carrying a concealed weapon or firearm into an elementary or secondary school facility, career center, or college or university facility to include only a public elementary or secondary school facility or administration building, etc.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2011

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  • by Corvettejon Location: Tampa,FL on Mar 3, 2011 at 05:08 PM
    Most people don't know, but until the late 80s you could openly carry a gun in Florida. And FSUstudent...Do you worry about who's packing heat now? Cause any one of your fellow students could illegally have a gun. Do you worry about your fellow students when you walk down the street? Cause in FL they are driving a deadly weapon that kills more people than guns. IMHO you should worry about completing school and not worrying about everyone else. Maybe, if you are that concerned, don't just read the liberal anti-gun propoganda, read the Constitution. You have the right to bear arms, period. Not for hunting or a militia, but so that when the Gov't decides to take away any of your other rights, you have a means to defend yourself. Look at Libya...see what happens when the people do not have the right to be armed.
  • by Misunderstood Location: Madison on Feb 25, 2011 at 10:46 AM
    This was a tragedy; however, any gun laws as they are now obviously did not prevent this. What these laws preventing guns on campuses have done is make all of our children "sitting ducks" for the thugs that rob and rape on the college campuses. As it is now, it is illegal to possess a firearm on campus and it is illegal to rob students and this accident still happened and students still get robbed. Logic would tell you that if concealed carry by ccw permit holders had been allowed on campus, this accident still would have happened; however, there may have been other violent crimes prevented. Absolutely no disrespect towards this family; however, it would be interesting to know how many violent crimes have been comitted on campus (a portion of which may have been prevented by citizen with a legally possessed firearm) as compared to accidental shootings.
  • by fsustudent Location: tallahassee on Feb 25, 2011 at 08:36 AM
    hint bobthegunslinger: work on your grammar before you criticize my education.
  • by bobthegunslinger Location: tampa,fla. on Feb 25, 2011 at 07:47 AM
    wow!i wish people would read sb 234 first before commenting on a good bill they know nothing of!this bill is for ccw holder`s only!;not drunk,underage frat boys with rifles off campus!it surprises me that it`s alway`s tje ones whom know nothing of guns that always want to make the rules for them!hint,you guys better continue your education!
  • by fsustudent Location: tallahassee on Feb 24, 2011 at 08:25 PM
    @John Hardin Ok, let's say that CCW holders are "are more responsible and law-abiding than the general population"...what happpens if someone steals their gun? I am not using the "drunken fratboy objection" as my means of disagreement, NO. I disagree because I, as an FSU student, don't want to have to worry when I sit in class and wonder if the person next to me has a gun or not. Do you honestly believe a student needs a gun in BIO 101 or whatever class? No. Please don't patronize me- I actually go to this school and have to worry about this. When YOU have to walk to class and have the question in your mind if those around are carrying guns, then talk to me. I mean if this passes, what is next?
  • by John Hardin Location: WA on Feb 24, 2011 at 06:36 PM
    @fsustudent: This tragedy is not relevant to the proposed law change. Holders of CCW permits must be at least 21, and they will be carrying pistols, not rifles. If you can point to problems with CCW holders irresponsibly getting drunk and accidentally shooting people _off campus_ then you would have grounds to worry about their behavior on campus. As it is, statistics show CCW holders are more responsible and law-abiding than the general population, and there is no reason to think this would change merely from going onto a college campus. The "drunken fratboy" objection to allowing CCW holders to carry on campus is not reasonable.
  • by Pete Location: Tampa on Feb 24, 2011 at 08:32 AM
    Gov. Scott will sell out our safety for NRA votes. I wouldn't have expected anything different from him.
  • by Southern Voice on Feb 24, 2011 at 05:18 AM
    Left-Winger,We have police all over the country today and do you know what they are there for? The majority of the time the police try to solve a case after a crime. You know,lay the chalk outlines and interview witnesses. Officers very seldom prevent crimes. They can't be by your side all day but a XD 45 can.
  • by Mark on Feb 23, 2011 at 03:39 PM
    @Gun Banner 2011: The Truth must be known: Education should be the focus of the classroom, not worrying about who is packing heat. A majority of gun owners = irresponsible with firearms Please do tell us the truth regarding the last part of your statement. Links? Facts?
  • by Mark Location: Tallahassee on Feb 23, 2011 at 03:33 PM
    So denying the bill will prevent accidental shootings off campus? The current laws banning weapons on campus don't work. Adding more laws banning weapons on campus will not work. Banning guns all together will not work. Any suggestions or am I expected to die like many for the sake of a few?
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