The Georgia House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow concealed carry of handguns on the state’s college campuses. The legislation would only apply to public colleges if passed by the state Senate.
On Feb. 22, H.B. 859 was passed by the Georgia House. Proposed by Republican Rep. Rick Jasperse of Jasper, the legislation has been unofficially coined the Campus Safety Act, according to MyAJC.
If approved by the Senate, the Campus Safety Act would allow concealed permit carriers aged 21 and older to possess a handgun on public college campuses. This would not extend to dormitories, Greek housing or sporting events, according to Reuters.
“The House took a very clear position that the Second Amendment does not stop at the edge of a college campus,” said Republican Rep. David Ralston of Blue Ridge, the House Speaker.
Support for the legislation swelled after several robberies on Georgia college campuses. Ja’Quan Taylor, president of Georgia Tech’s Students for Concealed Carry, has praised the bill.
“This bill will give students an opportunity to be one step closer to being able to properly defend themselves,” Taylor said. “This could be the difference between life or death for a student that is being threatened by a deadly weapon.”
The bill has not been unanimously popular. Georgia Senate Democrats protested the bill as unsafe.
“Persons have to be trained to use a weapon in a matter to fight back,” said Democratic state Sen. Harold Jones II of Augusta. “Georgia doesn’t do any kind of training to allow you to carry even if you have a permit. It doesn’t guarantee that you will protect anyone or that the law is going to work.”
Democratic Rep. Robert Trammell of Luthersville added that “in addition to the question of public safety, a weapon in a classroom environment is antithetical to the idea and mission of post-secondary education.”
House Republicans countered that gun-free zones can be potential targets of mass shooters, a hotly contested argument.
Citing incidents of unarmed citizens being targeted by gunmen, Republican Rep. John Meadows of Calhoun, the House Rules Chairman, rhetorically asked, “Would one person that had a license that was legally carrying could have made any difference? The answer is yes. Plain and simple.”
On Feb. 23, the Georgia House passed a bill dubbed “campus carry lite,” which would allow for college students and staff to carry stun guns on campus, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
“This is just another option,” said Republican Rep. Buzz Brockway of Lawrenceville, who proposed the legislation. “I support campus carry, but even if campus carry becomes legal, not everybody is going to want to carry a gun.”