When Florida Gators head football coach Dan Mullen said his team had a no-guns policy, what he actually meant was the exact opposite.
A week after wide receiver Kadarius Toney was found with a loaded AR-15 rifle in the back seat of his car during a traffic stop, Mullen said the policy allows players to own guns as “we live in a country where that’s one of your rights.”
"A lot of people I know have guns in their house to protect their homes and their family,” Mullen said Thursday during media day for the Gators. “What we do ... is really to educate them on weapons, on having guns. Why would you have it? What's the purpose of having it?”
Mullen added that the main concerns are whether gun owners are properly trained, qualified and have a license to own a weapon, as well as ensuring it is a legal gun.
“What we're not looking for, to me, is gun accidents or issues where a gun could maybe cause a bigger problem than if there wasn't a weapon involved."
While Mullen felt the need to clarify what the no-guns policy meant, several of his players thought the message was pretty simple and clear.
"No weapons allowed," receiver Josh Hammond said. "That's been our policy since coach Mullen got here."
However, Mullen, who was hired last November to turn around a struggling Gators’ offense, said that’s only the case in “certain situations.”
"It's a no-weapons policy in certain situations of how to be educated to not have (issues)," he said. "No weapons, that's easy to remember. If I write out all the different (scenarios) — no weapons in these situations or have a weapon for a hunting situation, if I'm doing this, I store it at this location, I keep it here, I have gun safety rules and knowledge — that's not a quick catch to them to register in their mind. Does that make sense?"
Toney, who was not cited for his AR-15 rifle because it was not concealed, nor did it violate the state’s open carry law, told Gainesville police he needed the weapon for protection from locals because "they be coming after us."
Police said the weapon is his.
The traffic incident comes after Toney, and several other football players avoided charges following an on-campus altercation involving some Gainesville residents in late May. Devante Zachery, a resident who was present during the altercation told police on player had an assault rifle, which turned out to be Toney’s Airsoft gun painted black to resemble a real rifle.
The players still face potential discipline from the university.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.