The Georgia Senate passed HB 859, the campus carry bill allowing concealed carry permit holders to possess firearms on all public colleges in Georgia, almost a month ago on March 11 of this year.
So where is it now?
While Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has time to address the legislation, some are left wondering if the Republican’s noted pause could be a sign that gun control groups have pressured him to rethink his support for the Second Amendment.
Last month, when informed of the uproar from college faculty and staff over the bill reaching the senate floor, Governor Deal responded, “I think they should be concerned about making sure that those students are taught and educated. That’s their responsibility. The law will take care of the rest of it.”
However, less than 24 hours after the bill hit Deal’s desk, the governor’s office released a statement in response to the legislation passed by the General Assembly:
“As a lifetime defender and staunch supporter of Second Amendment rights, Gov. Deal has signed every pro-gun bill to reach his desk. However, he believes legitimate points have been made in regards to certain aspects of the ‘campus carry’ bill and he calls on the General Assembly to address these concerns in related legislation before Sine Die. Specifically, these areas of concern include dually enrolled k-12 students who leave school to attend classes at a university or technical college campus, as well as daycare centers on these same campuses. Deal also believes the governing boards of universities and technical colleges should have the discretion to set reasonable rules regarding disciplinary hearings and faculty and administrative offices. Addressing these issues is an important step in ensuring the safety and freedoms of students, faculty and staff in our institutions of higher learning throughout our state.”
Last week, Bloomberg’s gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety began airing new television ads in the Atlanta area in an attempt to urge Deal to veto the bill.
“We’re asking Governor Deal to put the safety of students ahead of the interests of the gun lobby,” said Lindsey Donovan, volunteer Chapter Leader of the Georgia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Moms, students, educators, and campus police—those who know our campuses best—have spoken out against guns on campus for months and now it’s time for Governor Deal to stand with the four out of five Georgians who know that allowing guns on campus is a dangerous idea.”
“My only questions is for 35 years, he’s had an A+ rating from the NRA, and they want the bill signed as well as we do, and yet now he has concerns about signing a pro-gun bill,” said Jerry Henry, executive director of GeorgiaCarry.Org.
“While I certainly think [UGA police] do their absolute best to assure us of safety, I take no comfort in the fact that a criminal is not going to respect the law, and the criminal is going to show up with any numerous amount of weapons, or type of weapons,” said Domenick Riviezzo, a senior from Alpharetta majoring in political science.
“I feel the students of age, and with proper permits, have a right to protect themselves and feel safe no matter where they are,” said Ben Grayson, a freshman from Savannah majoring in marketing.
Liz Lazarus is also watching Governor Deal’s actions, or lack thereof, closely. “I feel that if a women is over 21, passes a background check and wants to carry a weapon for protection, that is her right under the 2nd Amendment. It concerns me that by making campuses ‘gun free zones’ we are basically guaranteeing to any potential assailant that if he targets a woman on campus, she will be unarmed and less able to defend herself,” Lazarus told Bearing Arms.
And she should know. Lazarus’ book, Free of Malice, is based on her personal experience. When she was a senior at Georgia Tech living in Home Park, just north of campus, a man broke into her bedroom in the middle of the night and tried to rape her at knifepoint. But she was lucky, fighting him off and ending the attack.
“Instead of taking what the media says, instead of taking what your friends who heard something on the news say, go look at the statistics yourself,” said Dylan Sager, a UGA junior majoring in cognitive science and psychology.
“If I have the right to carry a firearm anywhere else, I should have the same right on campus. (If) I can carry across the street, there’s no reason I can’t carry on campus. Nothing about me changes, nothing about my personality changes when I walk onto campus, and I think the same holds true to the other licensed concealed carriers who’d wish to carry on campus,” said Shane Mathews, a UGA senior from Colorado majoring in forestry.
Governor Deal has until May 4, 2016 to sign or veto the legislation.