Georgia House approves 'campus carry' bill

A proposed law to allow guns on college campuses will move forward this year.

Members of the Georgia House of Representatives approved House Bill 280 Friday afternoon, 108-63.  The legislation would allow licensed gun owners to carry firearms onto all public college and technical school campuses in the state.  HB 280 would not allow guns at sporting events, inside on-campus pre-schools nor in student housing, including fraternity and sorority houses.

"At the end of the day, if you don't want to protect yourself, then that's your business.  Take a walking stick with you.  You know, but at the end of the day you have a right to protect yourself," said Rep. Alan Powell, R- Hartwell.

Opponents of the bill, however, argued that the same concerns exist with this legislation as with an almost identical measure vetoed by Governor Nathan Deal in 2016.

"From the early days of our nation and state, colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed," Deal wrote in his veto statement.  "To depart from such time-honored protections should require overwhelming justification. I do not find that such justification exists."

Before his veto last year, the Governor cited concerns about guns in on-campus day cares and in classrooms where dual-enrollment high school students are present.  While the bill's sponsors addressed the pre-school issue in the new legislation, they did not take care of the other issue.

"We've got a great college and career academy--two of them--in my district.  The one in LaGrange [...] you know where it's housed? It's housed inside a technical school, West Georgia Tech," said Rep. Robert Trammell, D- Luthersville.  "We adopt this bill [and] you just put weapons in college and career academy in LaGrange, Georgia.  There's no carve-out for that."

The bill now moves to the Senate for its review.

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