Georgia Governor Nathan Deal was expected to sign HB 859 – the pro-gun bill dubbed the Campus Safety Act – but now he’s expressing reservations about the bill in its current form, namely regarding dually enrolled k-12 students, and on-campus daycare centers.
In its current form, HB 859 would allow college students and others 21 years and older to carry concealed firearms on college campuses as long as they obtain Georgia Weapons Licenses. In addition, they would not be allowed to carry in dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses, or at sporting events.
The Governor’s office released this statement about the pro-gun bill:
“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.”
As Georgia blogger Bill Simon with the Political Vine pointed out, if the Governor’s concerns were addressed in new legislation, it would only provide more opportunities for criminals:
So, a college-attending parent who is 21 years of age or older, who has a carry permit, and who has a kid, has to leave the gun in their vehicle while they go inside the child-care center to retrieve their child to take them back outside…and the mugger/rapist/robber waiting in the parking lot for just an opportunity to grab the kid, or assault the parent leaving the child-care center with the kid, but no self-defense weapon to defend the life of him/herself or child, is left defenseless while the crook, who did not bother to obtain a weapons carry permit, but got a gun on the black market? [Emphasis his]
Since there isn’t enough time to draft new legislation that would address the Governor’s concerns, the current bill could be signed into law with the understanding that another gun-related piece of legislation would immediately follow that would also amend HB 859 with the added exemptions.
It remains to be seen whether the Governor will go ahead and sign the bill without any changes, or if he’ll refuse. As House Speaker David Ralston said in a statement, “Time is of the essence.”