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Rebekah Hargrove, an unexpected gun advocate

The grad student was intending to become a scientist but when a shooter open fire at Strozier Library she became a pro-gun poster girl


Rebekah Hargrove is a 22 year old pursuing a master’s in social work at Florida State.

She was a research assistant for the FSU College of Medicine and plans to earn a doctorate in public health.

She works as a safety instructor for the American Red Cross.

She fosters homeless kittens.

The Connecticut native who has spent most of her life in Sarasota never touched a gun until she was 19.

Yet she was the plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in September when FSU tried to prohibit football fans from keeping their guns in a locked car during games. And she has become the face of the fight to allow concealed-carry permit holders to bring their guns to class.

“We’re not talking about arming the student populace,” said Hargrove, director of the Florida Students for Concealed Carry. “We’re just saying that a small amount of individuals who can conceal-carry anywhere else in town anyways should be allowed to do so on campus.”

Origins of an advocate

Her gun advocacy is rooted in upbringing, education and profession.

“The Code of Ethics from the National Association of Social Workers specifically says that ‘social workers believe in the right to self-determination,’ ” said Hargrove. “Because of that right, in my opinion, people can choose how they defend themselves or if they want to use a weapon to defend themselves.”

In May, when Florida Senate Judiciary Chairman Miguel Diaz de la Portilla tabled the concealed-carry proposal, Hargrove told the Miami lawmaker she would be contacting his campaign donors to tell them that although he says he supports the Second Amendment, when push came to shove de la Portilla folded and effectively killed the bill strengthening Second Amendment rights.

Voters need to know when a lawmaker says one thing on the campaign trail and then something different when making laws in Tallahassee, Hargrove said.

“I never thought I would be in the realm of politics," said Hargrove, who has been married for two years. "I thought I would just be a scientist.”.

Hargrove’s family moved from Connecticut to Sarasota when she was three. Her father fled Cuba in 1960 as a 14-year-old and instilled in her a sense of awe about America’s constitutional freedoms and an understanding that one’s world can suddenly be turned upside down. When he signed up for concealed carry permit classes, she took the course with him — firing a gun for the first time three years ago.

Sitting at a Starbucks on a weekday afternoon, Hargrove carried a holstered Beretta Nano beneath a loose fitting shirt. She is unapologetic when asked why she needs to bring a gun to a coffee shop.

“If someone came in that door right now and started shooting at me,” she said, “you would be really happy that I had one.”

After a shooter injured three last November at FSU's Strozier Library, Hargrove was spurred into action. The attack occurred the week one of her classes was studying public policy windows — the idea that events can open opportunities to change policy when they focus the public’s attention on an issue.

“So with that in mind I said, ‘you know, I need to do something,’” she said. “I feel like it’s my obligation because this isn’t right. This shouldn’t be happening.”

So Hargrove started a group called the Carry on Campus Movement. It caught the attention of the national group Students for Concealed Carry, which recruited Hargrove. During the legislative session, she became president of the FSU chapter (which the university has yet to recognize as a campus organization) and then was promoted to the state’s director position.

A close-knit community

Students for Concealed Carry formed after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting that left 32 people dead. Its website claims 43,000 members at 350 universities and colleges across the country. Seven of the eight states allowing concealed-carry on campus changed their laws to do so after the Virginia Tech shooting. SCC was active in the 15 legislatures that considered concealed-carry bills this year.

The only victory came in Texas.

It is unclear whether the momentum for change is coming from students or elsewhere. SCC is connected to the Leadership Institute, a Beltway-based group started in 1979 by Republican operative Morton C. Blackwell. The institute recruits and supports college conservatives. According to “The Trace,” a website documenting gun violence, the group, through a Campus Leadership Program, provides direct support to more than 70 SCC chapters and hires field representatives to train students and to form other chapters.

Robert Eagar is the Southeast Regional Director for SCC, which includes Florida. Eagar formed a chapter at Georgia Tech in 2012 when he was a student and continues his advocacy after graduation.

Hargrove deflected questions about the Leadership Institute and outside groups supporting Florida SCC, saying the gun rights community is close-knit, with state and national organizations sharing the same goals, working closely together and talking with each other frequently.

Attending committee hearings this spring for the campus-carry bill, Hargrove met Marion Hammer, former National Rifle Association president and the state's preeminent gun lobbyist. Under her watchful eye, the Florida Legislature has approved 31 bills loosening gun restrictions over the last 15 years.

“Marion is a great mentor, a great woman to look up to,” said Hargrove. “I know her well, and I think she is an amazing woman.”

The legislative battle ahead

Rep. Greg Steube filed HB 4001, a campus-carry proposal for the 2016 session. Tallahassee Rep. Michelle Rehwinkle-Vasilinda is a cosponsor.

“Do Americans really only want law enforcement and military to have guns?” asked Rehwinkle-Vasilinda. The term-limited lawmaker says as an undergraduate she brandished a handgun to fend off a rapist.

FSU President John Thrasher opposed the 2015 proposal. He has changed his position three times on the issue in the past five years; supporting it as a Senate candidate in 2010, opposing it as Senate Rules Chair in 2011, supporting it as a candidate in 2014 and then opposing it after being named FSU president later that year. When asked for a comment, his spokesperson deferred to the Board of Governors, which oversees state universities.

“The State University System and state universities are united in the belief that Florida should maintain the long-standing authority that enables state universities to prohibit firearms on their campuses,” said Brittany Davis, spokesperson for the BOG.

Hargrove promises a grass-roots effort of email, phone calls and testifying before committees to overcome the opposition. Truth, she said, is a powerful weapon.

“You look at all these campuses that allow campus-carry and none of the students, faculty, staff that are carrying on campus cause problems. None of them,” she said. “There hasn’t been a single incident (involving a concealed carrier).”

She explained that concealed-carry permit holders are responsible citizens who must take a mandatory course to get a license in the first place. When other graduate students have called her stupid and an idiot for supporting campus-carry, Hargrove said she has never had the urge to shoot them for exercising their First Amendment rights.

“We’re the same people on campus and off campus," she said. "We don’t suddenly change into crazy psycho people when we go on campus . . . we just want our right to protect ourselves.”

Source: http://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/politics/2015/10/10/rebekah-hargrove-unexpected-gun-advocate/73668620/

#NaplesGunSchool  #Naples Gun School  #Concealed Carry  #Campus Carry  #2ndAmendment  #self-defense  #NRA-ILA


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Naples Gun School - 5 stars I am an attorney from New York and currently residing in Florida. I have no experience with guns and never thought of owning one. Nevertheless, I wanted to understand gun culture and gun issues in Florida especially now that I am a permanent Florida resident. David Rich's class was extremely informative and David clearly demonstrated not only his knowledge of guns and gun safety but more importantly for me, he provided the legal framework and ramifications and responsibilities of gun use and ownership. Overall, the class was thoroughly worthwhile and enjoyable. Dean Fong

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Naples Gun School - 5 stars Great class. Made the class interesting. Instructor was extremely helpful and made my wife and I very comfortable. Antonio Santos

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Naples Gun School - 5 stars Great class!! There was a lot more hands on instruction than the class that I had in Tennessee. David was knowledgeable and entertaining. Good insights on Florida law. My wife will be taking the class shortly. Thanks David. Kevin 9/15/2018

  I thoroughly enjoyed the concealed weapons class on 8/11/18. The class went beyond my expectations. Dave you are an awesome instructor and made the class fun. I would highly recommend Naples Gun Shopping and School! Thanks for sharing your knowledge! - Teresa Cannon

David is an excellent instructor. The class is excellent and exceeded my expectations with information on the laws of Florida, and as well to carry properly, load the weapons as well as placement of holding weapons. If your looking to buy a weapon he is the man to go to. I personally bought my firearm from. - Carlos Casiano

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  Martha Hohenthaner

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  This was a very good class. I did not have to take it, as I am a Veteran, however it is a good idea. I learned a lot about Florida Law I did not know. It will in the long run help keep you out of trouble. David was very patient with my wife when we live fired, because she has arthritis and had a hard time pulling the trigger in double action mode. Good Job David thanks so much..Joseph Hohenthaner

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  The class was engaging and as fast paced as it can be. The instructor was knowledgeable and worked well with a class spanning all the levels of experience and age you can imagine. I also felt it was fairly priced, especially as you just had to bring yourself and an ID - all other supplies were, er, supplied.Cliff Elam 

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  Naples Gun Shop & School gets an A+ in my book! David and Ginny were great. I took the CWP class today 7/21/18. Both are extremely knowledgeable and easy to talk to. David is one of the best instructors that I have had the pleasure of meeting. I highly recommend Naples Gun Shop & School. Best prices, Great training, and easy to deal with. I will definitely be returning to do further business. Thank you David & Ginny....see you soon!Nicholas Lupo

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  I've been a repeat customer for FFL transfers with Naples Gun School for quite some time. Dave's customer service and knowledge are second to none. After speaking with Dave for a few moments, you start to feel as if you have known him for quite a while. I look forward to continuing my business when the new location opens. - Robert Boyette

I really enjoyed the class yesterday, and it was very nice to meet David and Ginny. David is very knowledgeable, helpful, and best of all: has a sense of humor. I was more nervous than I thought I would be because this was the first time in my life that I've ever shot a semi-automatic weapon. David lives and breathes this stuff and his presence and ease with weapons was very calming for me when I was at the range. Ginny was also very supportive throughout the whole class. Thank you guys so much! It's a pleasure and I will be back to purchase supplies from you! - Shenandoah Webb

Naples Gun School - 5 starsTook the 3/31/18 class and loved it! Dave was very informative and his laid back teaching style made the 4 hour class fly by. Would recommend this class to anyone interested in a CWP. Thanks Dave and Ginny! - Kelly Gardner

Naples Gun School - 5 stars I’d like to thank The Naples Gun School for the time and effort they took in order to help me become a more responsible hand gun owner. By taking your CCWP class on 3.31.2018, I’m honestly a better person today than I was yesterday. Your course is not only interesting, but informative as well. The time we had together flew by. Throughout the whole process, they were calm and patient with every student. Especially after everyone seemed to drop their cartridges on the floor during the revolver training portion of the program. I highly recommend Naples Gun School to anyone that’s interested in becoming a CCWP holder. And I definitely will use their services by purchasing all my gun needs through their establishment. David & Ginny, thank you so much. I had a wonderful time!Chris Shaffer

Naples Gun School - 5 stars This class kept me very interested, informed and didn’t even realize 4 hours went by! Would recommend everyone to take this class! - Douglas Shaffer

Naples Gun School - 5 stars - Lurybella Lora Trejo


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