This story was updated on May 3 @ 5:15 p.m. to include Gov. Deal’s remarks.
On May 3 Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal decided to finally shoot down the ever-polarizing House Bill 859 (HB 859), declining the legalization of carrying handguns on college campuses.
HB 859 would have allowed licensed handgun owners to tote their pistols on school grounds within the University System of Georgia (USG). Residence halls, Greek housing and athletic events would have been the only exceptions to the rule.
But the newly-deceased legislation, nicknamed the “Campus Carry” bill was met with staunch opposition from concerned parents, burgeoning advocacy groups and some higher-ups at the USG who claim armed students pose more danger than protection.
Georgia State’s University President Mark Becker told The Signal he reached out to Deal’s office personally in an effort to sway the governor to veto. Becker said Deal’s office never got back to him.
Rick Jasperse, the brains behind the Republican-backed gun bill, said he was driving this legislation to ensure students have a means of protection during dangerous situations at school.
Georgia State’s Student Government Association (SGA) President-Elect Fortune Onwuzuruike said he’s relieved that the State leaders had the common sense to keep deadly weapons away from an active school’s campus.
“Today our governor made the right decision to prohibit Campus Carry. Now let’s work with the community and law enforcement to make our campus safer,” he said.
In a news release explaining his recent vetoes, Deal said he opted to kill the bill because he could not be sure the aspirations of security endorsed by Jasperse and supporters would actually help students stay safe.
“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,” he said.
Still, he said he understands there was some merit to the notion of guns on campus.
“I understand the concerns of the authors of this legislation and the parents and students who want it to become law,” he said. “They apparently believe that the colleges are not providing adequate security on their campuses and that civilian police are not doing so on the sidewalks, streets and parking lots students use as they go to and come from classes.”