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Campus Carry Push: Rape Survivor Pens Open Letter To Florida State Senator Diaz de la Portilla


Originally published on by Shayna Lopez-Rivas and republished with permission from the author.

I am typing this letter from a Starbucks in Tallahassee, where I am situationally aware, trained, and well armed. Although I do not expect anything drastic to happen today, I am still prepared if something does go down—either to get the heck out and dodge, or tackle whatever happens head on, and I am prepared to do so with deadly force if needed. Although I now maintain great situational awareness everywhere I go and have self defense training in disarming, and in fighting off, an attacker, there are times where I am legally left without the tool that could best level the playing field in protecting me—my gun.

Currently under Florida law, I am not allowed to carry on my campus, Florida State University. On my campus that reported 17 sexual assaults in 2014; on my campus that uses maybe 10 uniformed officers at any given point in time to protect the whole campus; on my campus that refuses to back campus carry as a way for women to legitimately protect themselves from assault; and on my campus which claims sovereign immunity when they are unable to protect these women: I am told I am safe and I do not need a gun.

While President Thrasher and university officials would have you believe that I am not defenseless, and even, that I am safe on campus, I would beg to differ. I already used pepper spray once; do you want to know how that ended for me? I was left shaking and crying, half naked on campus grounds, with cut marks all over my body. That’s what pepper spray did for me.

As a gun rights activist, I can write all day about our Second Amendment rights. I will throw down statistics like how 0.1 percent of rapes were completed when women used a firearm as compared to a 34 percent completion rate when women used any other form of self-defense. Or how with the exception of two, all the mass shootings since the 1950’s have been in gun free zones.  Stats are easy to discuss, but when it comes to talking about being raped, my throat gets dry and my hands freeze up. It’s a lot harder to write about nightmares than it is to write about numbers.

And I do have nightmares from being raped on campus. Sometimes they are so bad I wake up at three in the morning sweaty and terrified because in my mind I am being raped again. In my mind I am there: I am forced into a secluded area, forced to unzip my pants, forced to lay down as tiny cuts are made all over my body and a man I do not know rolls on a condom and forces himself on top of me. I remember how cold the asphalt felt as I distracted myself from the sting of the knife. I remember looking into his eyes and realizing there was no emotion behind them, no sympathy just sadism. And I remember thinking: this is how I’m going to die and then getting up after it was done, tears streaming down my face and neck wondering how I even survived.


I was already raped once off campus my freshman year of college, but this time I used pepper spray. This time I ran, heading for those blue lights staggered around campus to signal the police I was in danger. I did everything right but when he pulled a knife I stopped fighting. Instinct told me to cooperate if I didn’t want to get stabbed to death, and here I am today—sitting at Starbucks, simultaneously trying to remember the exact details and forget this ever happened.

I fight for my Second Amendment rights because I believe I should never have a chance of getting raped again. I won’t deny the possibility of getting injured, but my gun gives me a chance that pepper spray, stun guns, and pocketknives never will. It prevents a knife being held at my throat and the voice of a stranger promising me he won’t kill me. And I won’t be denied the right to have that chance of surviving a potential attack rather than being assaulted again.

Sen. Diaz de la Portilla, why are you so adamant in denying me my right to protect myself and have a gun on campus? Why have you not schedule the campus carry bill for the Senate Judiciary Committee you chair? Why have you not met with me for 15 minutes since October when I began sending you and your legislative assistant weekly emails asking for an appointment?

I hope this open letter will engage opposition to campus carry. I hope everyone will understand why it’s so important that the bill be scheduled for a vote. Senator Diaz de la Portilla: Don’t let me be raped on campus again, let me arm myself, and whether you vote yes or no, at least schedule the campus carry bill for a vote.

Lopez-Rivas is an undergraduate student at Florida State University. She is an intern at the University’s College of Social Work and is the Women’s Representative for Florida Students for Concealed Carry.

Categories: General
About Brandon Curtis | View all posts by Brandon Curtis

Brandon is the founder of Concealed Nation and is an avid firearm enthusiast, with a particular interest in responsible concealed carry. His EDC is a Glock 27 that holds Hornady…

Brandon is the founder of Concealed Nation and is an avid firearm enthusiast, with a particular interest in responsible concealed carry. His EDC is a Glock 27 that holds Hornady 165 gr FTX Critical Defense rounds, and rides comfortably in an Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0 holster.

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  • Redline

    Well written, well thought out letter that puts a face on what most of us know. The real drawback is this type of letter needs to be addressed to, and relies on a clueless liberal that hides behind armed security.

  • Michael Visco

    And sadly they never will alow her to meet with them for it does not fit there agenda. The will likely tell her that maybe she needs to be more carful where she go’s and to stay out of places that she knows could pose a problem. As for the letter she will be lucky that he even reads it, but his secretary may, and write a pitiful sympathy letter to her says how he doesn’t have time for her or her story. Until people start realizing that these idiots in office don’t give a flying shit about us it will never get better and they will keep doing what ever they want or doing what ever the highest bidder wants.

  • Robert C. Muench

    Carry anyway.

  • Yuri

    Keep pushing for campus carry. Here in Virginia Liberty University now allows students and faculty to carry. Say no to gun free zones and deter those who want to do harm.

  • William Gillespie Sr.

    My heart goes out to this brave young woman as well my anger at elected officials who won’t give all young women the means to protect themselves. I have a 20 yr old daughter who started shooting handguns when she was 8yr old. She intends on getting her CCW next tear. With everything that has happen and what we know is happening I would like to know why these administrators won’t allow people to protect themselves. In fact they don’t have the right to”ALLOW” someone to exercise that which is a God given right. The 2nd Amendment cannot be controlled by any one person or group. If a small group of colored students can force the resignation of two top administrators at a college ,than an even larger group at all colleges could get administrators who believe in our Constitution and Bill Of Rights and give those who wish to carry on a campus can do so.

  • Ronald Marshall

    It shouldn’t be a matter of “ALLOWING” personal protection when our Constitution guarantees it as a right…… not a “privilege”.