After two hours of heated debate from both sides of the aisle and a 37-to-17 vote, the Georgia Senate passed HB 859, a gun bill which would allow guns on the state’s college campuses. The bill had passed the Georgia House earlier this week. Now that it’s been passed by the state Senate, the gun bill is on its way to Governor Nathan Deal’s desk where he is expected to sign it into law.
As we’ve reported before, HB 859 would allow only those 21 years of age and older to carry firearms on Georgia college campuses. Obtaining a concealed carry permit – and carrying concealed – would be required by the new law, and some areas would remain gun-free zones, namely, dorms, fraternities, sororities, and sporting events.
Critics have voiced their concerns with the gun bill, saying that it would “increase the rate of suicides” and that it will lead to “more mothers burying their kids.” They contend that mixing college students with alcohol and guns is a “bad decision,” as an ad by Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety put it. Some faculty say that guns in classrooms will stifle free speech, as sometimes discussions become heated. Students will be reticent if they find out that the person next to them is carrying a gun. And not to mention that armed students upset over a bad grade may take their anger out on the professor.
If a student does behave that way, he’s no longer a “law-abiding citizen.” As it stands now, anyone can walk on to a Georgia college campus and shoot a bunch of people, regardless of what the law is.
Overall, those critical of the bill believe it to be a slippery slope that will lead to a “Wild West” scenario on college campuses.
Back in 2010, one outraged Georgia Tech student with a Ph.D in Aerospace Engineering took a katana sword with him and slashed a professor within an inch of his life. Professor Samir Tawfik told the AJC, “He was about to slaughter me.” Indeed, the student – Kshitij Shrotri – cut Tawfik “in the leg and within 2 inches of his heart” and “severely cut his hand and slashed his neck.” Carrying a sword like a katana, or any other weapon for that matter, on Georgia Tech campus at that time was strictly prohibited not only by school policy, but by law. But it still happened.
All this campus carry bill will do is “level the playing field,” if you will. You’d think that in light of incidents such as the one mentioned above as well as recent armed robberies that occurred on other Georgia campuses, that many faculty would be in favor of this gun bill, since it would allow them to carry to protect themselves.
ABC News reported that state Senator Fran Millar – one of the few Republicans to oppose the gun bill – said that the bill was the “result of an attitude of fear.” But isn’t banning firearms outright more the result of fear than allowing them?
If the law is signed by Governor Deal, Georgia would become the ninth state with a law that allows campus carry.