Georgia Governor Nathan Deal vetoed the state’s recent pro-gun bill – HB 859, the “Campus Safety Act” – saying that it would not make college campuses any safer.
Governor Nathan Deal said in a public statement regarding the pro-gun bill, HB 859:
“If the intent of HB 859 is to increase safety of students on college campuses, it is highly questionable that such would be the result. 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 should require overwhelming justification. I do not find that such justification exists.”
The Governor – who has said that he’s a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment – said that the way to deal with gun violence on college campuses is not to allow students to carry concealed, but to make tougher laws and penalties for those who are in illegal possession of firearms. [Because criminals care about laws and penalties, right?]
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The pro-gun bill would have allowed college students and others 21 years and older to carry concealed firearms on college campuses as long as they obtained Georgia Weapons Licenses. In addition, they would not have been allowed to carry in dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses, or at sporting events.
The Governor was expected to sign the pro-gun bill, but in March, he expressed reservations about it, namely regarding dually enrolled k-12 students and on-campus daycare centers. He wanted the session to make changes to the legislation to satisfy his concerns, at which point he would have considered signing it. But the session refused to make any changes.
Critics had voiced their concerns with the gun bill after it had passed the Georgia legislature, saying that it would “increase the rate of suicides” and that it will lead to “more mothers burying their kids.”
They contended that mixing college students with alcohol and guns would be a “bad decision,” as an ad by Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety put it.
Some faculty say that guns in classrooms would stifle free speech, as sometimes discussions become heated. Students would be reticent if they found 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.
Overall, those critical of the bill believed it to be a slippery slope that would lead to a “Wild West” scenario on college campuses.
In addition to vetoing this campus carry legislation, Governor Deal also vetoed the state’s religious liberty bill last month.