Politics

Ga. University System Head Opposes New ‘Campus Carry’ Bill

Georgia's House Public Safety Committee meets for a hearing on a bill that would allow guns on the state's college campuses.
Georgia's House Public Safety Committee meets for a hearing on a bill that would allow guns on the state's college campuses.
Credit Johnny Kauffman / WABE
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The head of Georgia’s university system on Monday spoke publicly for the first time against a bill that would allow guns on college campuses around the state.

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“With respect to ‘campus carry,’ we feel strongly that current law strikes the right balance to create a safe environment on our campuses,” said Steve Wrigley, the chancellor of the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents, before a committee of mostly Republican lawmakers friendly to expanding gun rights.

“This position is supported by our presidents and campus public safety departments who are closest to the day-to-day realities and operations of the state’s public colleges and universities. We therefore respectfully oppose any change to current law,” he said.

The university system also opposed a “campus carry” bill passed by the state Legislature in 2016. It was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal after he requested lawmakers tweak the measure, which legislative leaders refused. Last year’s measure said guns wouldn’t be allowed in dorms, fraternities, sororities or sporting events.

This year’s measure adds an exception for some on-campus daycare facilities, although its lead sponsor, Rep. Mandi Ballinger, a Republican from Canton, said it may need to be “modified.” She did not elaborate on how.

Three committee hearings have now been held on Ballinger’s bill, all three with little notice to the public. Still, the House Public Safety Committee has not voted to move the bill closer to a full vote in the House.

Carlos Moreno told the committee his son attends Georgia Tech, and allowing guns on campus would “needlessly endanger students.”

“I’ve personally known students about whom I was seriously concerned as to whether they might do harm to themselves or to others,” Moreno said. “The last thing we need to do is to make it easier for these students to carry lethal weapons on campus.” 

Ballinger said that if students can carry guns they can better defend themselves.

“If you’re a bad guy and you want to do something bad to somebody and you see them walking out of the general classroom building at Georgia State, you know they’re defenseless,” she said. “So we’re changing that dynamic by passing this piece of legislation.”

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