Proposed bill could allow guns on campus

Patrick Duffy | The Signal
The crosswalk from Hurt Park to Sparks Hall.

House Bill 29 was recently proposed by Rep. Charles Gregory, R-Kennesaw, as a way to combat potential criminals.

If enacted, the bill will allow students 21 and older, professors and any other adults to carry guns on college campuses around Georgia.

Essentially, the proposal will amend Part 3 of Article 4 of Chapter 11 of Title 16 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated and repeal restrictions against carrying a firearm on any public, or private technical school, vocational school, college, university or postsecondary institution.

H.B. 29 is said to be a defense mechanism.

If every student and professor on a college campus possessed a gun, they would be more equipped to handle themselves in a life-threatening situation.

However, not everyone agrees with the bill. The University System of Georgia is lobbying against it, and several officers from the Georgia State Police Department spoke out about the issue as well.

“The [police department] supports the laws that currently exist,” said Chief Mullis

Sgt. Sharon Ware agreed.

“[The bill] would definitely harm more than it would help safety on college campuses. It would put more students in harms way.”

One precaution that has been discussed upon the proposal of H.B. 29, is possible training for students who are ill equipped to operate a gun properly; however, Ware disagreed with this notion.

“There is no way that there would be any sort of training sufficient enough for a student to learn how to operate a firearm.”

Ware assured that the bill most likely would not pass, but in the event that it does she said that things would have to change dramatically at the police department.

“We would really have to re-evaluate a lot of the things that we do,” Ware said.

Some students from Georgia State also spoke out on the new bill proposal.

“I believe that college students don’t really have self control due to immaturity and peer pressure…I don’t want to feel like I am a danger to someone,” student Tiara Lamm said.

Following Lamm’s sentiments, student Christopher Denis agreed by saying,“ [A] college campus is not the proper environment for a firearm.”

However, Denis also saw how having a gun could be beneficial.

“I would feel more capable of protecting myself,” he said.

Some students also expressed concerns that having guns on campus might evoke even more confusion and fear.

“It might have a negative effect because of tension. There would be a fear because no one would know whether, or not another person is carrying a gun,” student Binh Siu said. “There are more deaths caused by the misfiring of guns versus in defense of something.”

It is possible that the inspiration behind H.B. 29 is the recent college shootings that have occurred.

Four people were left wounded after a shooting at Lone Star College in Houston, TX on Jan. 22.

Nonetheless, the fate of  H.B. 29 is unknown as of now, but it will be decided within the next few months. The state legislature thinks that the bill will make college campuses feel more protected. This view is not widely held though.

“Not everyone is mature enough to handle a gun. Yes we are adults, but we are young adults,” student Angela Kendrick said.