Governor Deal signs campus carry into effect; USG releases campus guidlines

The University System of Georgia has announced the concealed carry protocol for House Bill 280 (HB 280). The memo outlines where guns are not allowed.

In the announcement, Chancellor of the University System of Georgia, Steve Wrigley, cautioned students and faculty to exercise patience and understanding as the the law is put into place.

“I understand that many of you have strong feelings about this bill. Whether you opposed or supported the bill we all share the same goal of ensuring a safe campus environment. We should work together to implement the law as written and thoughtfully address any complications that may arise,” Wrigley said.

Georgia State student and business major Chris Sananikone expressed concern over the implementation of the new law.

“The idea of people allowed to carry guns on campus is bizarre. What if two people get into an argument and both happen to carry guns, I’m sure they’re both intelligent not to pull out on each other?,” Sananikone said. “Humans can make irrational decisions. Yes, being able to carry [handguns] allows a wide range of security like putting down lone wolves or thieves, but I just don’t feel safe around people with guns.”  

Georgia State student Nalin Singh spoke approvingly of the law’s implementation but questioned the law’s ultimate goal.

“Being a proud gun owner, I think it’s good that we the people have the right to carry a gun to more places, but more freedom does not equal more security. This law is intended to make college campuses safer, but just because you can pull a trigger that requires three pounds of pressure doesn’t mean you’re going to stop an active shooter,” Singh said.

Singh would prefer for people carrying guns on campus to be required to take classes in which they are taught how to deal with an active shooter and other threats.

“[A gun] is not a toy that you can just pick up and know how to use it. A gun is a tool which takes time to master,” Singh said.

Under the current law license, holders are allowed to keep weapons secured in motor vehicles, but when the new law is implemented, anyone with a legitimate license in the State of Georgia will be able to carry a handgun in a concealed fashion on property owned or leased by public colleges and universities.

The new law describes the concealment of weapons as being carried in a manner that does not draw the attention of others and is not prominently displayed except for the purpose of defending one’s self or others. Licensed holders can carry a handgun whilst it is substantially, covered by clothes or in a bag of nondescript nature. Only handguns will be permitted on campus, no other weapons will be allowed.

HB 280 does not extend to institution-sponsored events or excursions away from campus on property that is not owned or leased by a University System institution. Handguns cannot be carried into buildings and property on campus used for athletic sporting events. This includes stadiums, gymnasiums and other facilities wherein intercollegiate games take place.

However, there is an exception this rule.

“The law [does not exempt] areas outside the gates of the sports facility,” communications specialist of the University System of Georgia, Sonja Roberts said.

This means that licensed gun holders may carry their guns to tailgating events, recreation centers and similar spaces not used for intercollegiate games. Other places where guns can’t be carried include residential halls in student housing facilities as well as fraternity and sorority houses.

Housing not leased or owned by a USG institution is not covered by HB 280. A room, continuous collections of rooms or outdoor facilities used for preschool or childcare will not allow concealed carry unless the license-holder is given authorized access.

Concealed carry will not be permitted in rooms being used for classes where high school students are enrolled for dual enrollment, Early College or other specialized programs. If a license holder wishes to carry their handgun to class they must first visit the institution’s registrar to verify their own enrollment status. After this, the licensed carrier will be notified if their classes have high school students enrolled in them. No listing of individuals who inquire of the presence of high school students in their classes will be made.

Faculty, staff and administrative offices are off limits for handgun carriers, general public common spaces outside of these areas, however, may permit handguns. Rooms wherein disciplinary proceedings for students, faculty or staff take place will not permit concealed carry. Violating any of these exceptions will result in a misdemeanor charge.

Despite the restrictions outlined by the USG, Sananikone remained uneasy about the law’s implementation.

“It still doesn’t make me feel safe, those aren’t areas that I frequent,” Sananikone said.

As for Singh, the restrictions placed on stadiums and housing facilities were too harsh considering the law’s overall goal of allowing licensed holders to carry their concealed handgun in different areas on campus.

“I feel like if you’re going to have a law it should be all or nothing. What will stop anyone from doing harm in those areas? I don’t think the law is going to live up to what it’s intended for,” Singh said.   

Georgia State and USG institutions do not have the authority to further limit handguns on their campuses beyond what HB 280 mandates. Likewise, no one is permitted to interfere with someone else’s ability to carry their concealed handgun. Concealed carriers will not be offered storage facilities for their handguns nor will there be signs denoting restricted areas.

Chancellor Wrigley said that each USG institution will need to review its campus conduct and weapons policy to maintain compliance with the HB 280. Georgia State’s police department C awaits further instruction on how these guidelines will be enforced.

We have not fully vetted the guidelines or our implementation and training on this law,” Chief of Police Joseph Spillane said.

The law will take effect on July 1.   

Want to know what your peers have said about the bill before now? Then check out last year’s ATC below!