For the past three years, the gun lobby has been consumed with supporting legislation that would force Georgia’s public colleges and universities to allow individuals to carry guns on their campuses.
Last year, Georgia became one of seventeen states to defeat legislation that would force colleges to allow guns on campus after NRA-backed Governor Nathan Deal vetoed a guns on campus bill. Governor Nathan Deal pointed out the constitutional, historical and policy reasons for his veto and explained his decision by stating, “From the early days of our nation and state, colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed. To depart from such time-honored protections would require overwhelming justification. I do not find that such justification exists.”
However, this year some lawmakers have chosen to ignore Governor Deal’s clear and unambiguous veto to breathe new life into this dangerous legislation.
The gun lobby and some Georgia lawmakers have reintroduced virtually the same dangerous bill, with a new cursory change related to certain child care and learning facilities. HB 280 would force our public colleges and universities to allow guns on campus, including in classrooms, disciplinary hearings, tailgates, and at most campus events where alcohol is served or consumed.
Governor Deal was not alone in opposing this dangerous policy. Immediately after last year’s bill landed on Governor Deal’s desk, the Georgia chapter of Moms Demand Action joined a coalition of concerned Georgians to lead a 40-day opposition campaign. More than 7,000 people called the governor’s office, and more than 6,000 sent him emails in opposition to the bill. Additionally, volunteers with the Georgia chapter of Moms Demand Action and other local groups delivered more than 30,000 petition signatures to the governor’s office, asking him to veto the bill.
Georgia campus stakeholders, including students, faculty, professors and law enforcement officers, asked the Governor not to leave them vulnerable to the threat of gun violence, and he listened.
Their fears were not unfounded.
A recent review by researchers at Johns Hopkins University showed that college campuses and students have characteristics that make the presence of guns on campus potentially dangerous, Students who carried guns at college were more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as binge drinking and drunk driving, and were more likely to be threatened with a gun.
Governor Deal was right. There is no justification for allowing guns on campus.
Georgians are in need of common sense gun measures that prioritize public safety, and simply forcing campuses to allow guns doesn’t do that. We will continue to fight to defend our children’s rights to a safe and secure college education. The fourth time is certainly not the charm.