Safe Carry Protection Act seeks to lessen the penalty for carrying guns on campus

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 1.57.06 PMAfter passing in the House of Representatives, Georgia’s HB 875, the Safe Carry Protection Act, has already begun to receive waves of disapproval from teachers, students and parents.

HB 875 is a revised version of last year’s HB 29 that called for a removal of gun bans everywhere. The current bill places the restrictions back on carrying a gun on campus, but lightens the penalty for getting caught with it.

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The bill, introduced by Republican Representatives Rick Jasperse and Dustin Hightower, calls for changing the offense for carrying a gun from criminal to civil. If a person is caught with a gun on campus, he/she would pay a $100 fine.

Dr. Steve Anthony, lecturer for the Department of Political Science, said that he feels in danger if the bill gets passed, even considering resignation.

“I think it will embolden those who have wanted to bring guns to school. I feel very much in danger, because I know that someone could have one,” Anthony said. “I might quit. So, will a lot of other. Plus people that are looking to come to Georgia State from other states for faculty position openings are not going to apply.”

He said teachers at Georgia State and campuses across Georgia are against the bill, along with the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the voice of faculty interests in state and federal legislatures, and the Board of Regents, the policy creator for the University System of Georgia.

Other professors at Georgia State feel jeopardized by the potential consequences that the bill might have on Georgia State if it is passed.

Dr. Susanne Schorpp, assistant professor for the Department of Political Science, does not think the bill will enable more shootings to happen on campus. Schorpp believes the perceptions of teachers and students will be changed in a negative way.

“You have to worry about potential implications of having guns in your classrooms that will distract from the main mission of the teacher,” Schorpp said. “There are always instances in the lives of teachers where students get angry and are disappointed and I would not like to have to worry about the potential consequences of me angering students.”

Dr. S. Rashid Naim, undergraduate director and senior lecturer for the Department of Political Science, feels that the passing of this bill would result in a change in classroom social dynamics by stifling discussions on controversial topics.

“We create what we call ‘Safe Classes’, where they are safe not just physically but safe in the sense that I can say something here and not put myself in physical danger,” Naim said. “I cannot guarantee that if some kid in the class is sitting there with a gun.”

Naim said that he will not change his teaching style but suggested that teachers should get a pay increase to combat pay. He said that the job as a teacher would become more dangerous if the bill is passed.

Ph.D political science student Michael Shea believes there is no need for lessened gun restrictions on Georgia State’s campus since Georgia State is under four different police force jurisdictions.

“We are an urban university and of course there is a degree of crime as there would be in any urban environment, but I don’t think that the level of crime has risen to the degree that it is feasible or desirable to have a situation where students are armed. We do have a university police force here. This area of Atlanta also falls under the jurisdiction of the Capitol police, the Atlanta police department, and the Georgia State patrol,” Shea said.

Ayap Lumseen, sophomore sociology major, said that the possibility of her classmates bringing guns to school is in the back of her mind.

“I feel in danger, but I have more faith in people’s sanity. I don’t think it would affect me that much,” Lumseen said.

On Tuesday, Feb. 25, the Georgia Chapter of Moms Demand Action went to the Georgia State Capitol to give senators “Common Sense Cookies” in exchange for an opportunity to talk to them about parts of the Safe Carry Protection Act.

Piyali Cole, the Georgia chapter leader for Moms Demand Action, says that the group was started in response to the Sandy Hook incident. About 30% of their members are from Atlanta. This bill hits home for her because her son was recently accepted to Georgia State.

“We’ve been concerned about gun violence for a long time,” Cole said. “If this bill passes it will bring a slap on the wrist to anyone that breaks the law. It’s going to bring more people and more guns onto our campuses.”

Georgia’s current law says that it is against the law for a person to have a gun on campus with a permit, and that the closest a gun can be in proximity to a school is in a car in the parking lot. If someone has a gun on campus, the current criminal penalty for a license holder would be a misdemeanor and a felony for those without a license.


1 Comment

  1. The logic in these arguments, or lack thereof, is amazing. Criminals are known to break the law. There are numerous standing laws preventing certain actions, but those who wish to break the law do just that… break the law. Do you honestly think a sign will prevent a deranged individual from doing harm to others? What about the armed robber who is willing to potentially kill for the $10 and cell phone in your picket? The police can’t be everywhere at once.

    Individuals in Ga with carry permits follow the law. If they weren’t already law abiding citizens, they wouldn’t be eligible for a permit. What’s all that wrong with wanting the ability to defend oneself? We’re all adults here. Can we not be trusted to make responsible decisions?

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