School presidents from the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State University and Georgia State University are speaking publicly against a bill in the state Senate that would allow students over 21 to carry weapons on campus at public institutions here.
“I am deeply concerned that if this bill becomes law our campus will become less safe, not more safe as intended by the authors of the bill,” said GSU President Mark Becker in a letter to faculty and staff.
“Prohibiting firearms on our campuses ensures safer learning and working environments for our students, faculty and staff, and mitigates the risks that firearms present for our campus police officers,” said Daniel S. Papp, president of Kennesaw State University.
Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson and UGA President Jere W. Morehead also noted their support of recent statements from University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby.
“Our campus police officers will tell you that allowing students to have firearms on campus makes their job extremely challenging, particularly if an extreme emergency were to occur,” Huckaby said. “The bottom line: we oppose this legislation.”
One of the co-sponsors of the bill, state Rep. Rick Jasperse, R–Jasper, said he respects Huckaby, but he has “a difference of opinion” from the leader of Georgia’s public universities.
“If you did press a blue light, how long does it take campus security to come get you? That’s the problem,” Jasperse said. “We’re saying that you as an individual — that the universities should not take your ability to defend yourself, no matter what, from you. This thing about punching lights, and running and calling for help, that ain’t right!”
The bill passed the House and is now pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. It’s likely to pass out of that committee.
Gov. Nathan Deal told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he supports the measure.