Campus Carry Returns from the Dead: What’s Next?

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Written by Toni Stauffer

 

 

Raised from the dead, an updated version of the controversial “campus carry” bill—the legislation that would allow guns on college campuses—rose from the Golden Dome after a veto from Governor Deal last year. The revised bill, which includes Deal’s requested exemptions for campus childcare centers, faculty offices, and administrative buildings, passed and now awaits the Governor’s signature. Starting Friday, April 7, he has 40 days to make his decision.

A signature from Governor Deal means that anyone 21 and older with a concealed weapons permit will be able to carry a firearm on any campus in Georgia, except for in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and athletic centers, as well as the aformentioned exemptions.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nine other states currently allow concealed weapons on public college and university campuses, while an additional 24 allow each institution to decide whether to allow them on their grounds.

Those for It

David Cotton, 48, a veteran and professional writing student at Columbus State, feels conflicted. While he doesn’t think everyone is mature enough to responsibly carry a weapon, he also firmly believes that carrying a weapon is a constitutional right, even on college campuses.

“There need to be more checks and balances for getting a permit to carry,” said Cotton. “Maybe a battery of questions to measure personality traits. I don’t know the answer.” He doesn’t think having guns on campus will escalate violence, but he doesn’t think it will be a deterrent either. “I firmly believe if someone is going to carry a gun on campus,” said Cotton, “they are going to carry one.”

He thinks it is a good idea to keep guns out of dormitories and other places where there could potentially be alcohol. “I’m not saying it [alcohol] is rampant, but alcohol and firearms don’t mix.” He added, “Not even in the army can you have a weapon in the barracks, because people get drunk and stupid.”

Those Opposed

“At minimum, the bill should be amended to not allow guns inside the classroom,” wrote Dr. Diana Riser, Associate Professor of Psychology, in a letter to Governor Deal last year. “The classroom should be a safe space for open communication on complex issues.”

Another concern Riser has is that allowing guns on campus will make it easier for people with mental health issues to have access, and this may increase suicides and attempted suicides. “Mental health issues and poor impulse control are a legitimate issue for young adults. Our frontal lobe is not fully developed until our mid-twenties,” wrote Riser. “This means adding guns to the complicated world of becoming an adult, in a space where controversial conversations and meeting diverse people can be stressful for some.”

Riser also wrote that if the bill passes, she will move her family and find work in another state that doesn’t allow firearms on campus.

The Views of the Administration

As a state law enforcement agency within Georgia, the CSU Police Department enforces the laws of the state as they are written in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, or OCGA. Should the laws of the state change pursuant to HB 280, our agency will modify our training, practices, and enforcement to reflect any changes as implemented by the legislature and Governor Deal.”  ~Lieutenant J. Brett Stanelle

“With respect to campus carry, we feel strongly that current law strikes the right balance to create a safe environment on our campuses…We therefore respectfully oppose any change to current law.” ~Hank Huckaby, University System of Georgia Chancellor, from his 2016 official testimony