BARTOW COUNTY, Ga. - Speaking publicly for the first time since his veto of a bill that would allow guns on college campuses, the governor stood by his decision Monday.
Governor Nathan Deal said he was not thoroughly convinced that a change needed to be made to a policy that has been in place since the University of Georgia was chartered.
"I suppose the most obvious question is, why since 1785 when we've been through major wars, conflicts and upheavals in this country and in the world--why all of a sudden in 2016 do we need weapons in the hands of college students where they have historically never been allowed to be? Nobody's answered that question satisfactorily for me," explained Governor Deal. "That's probably my biggest reason."
House Bill 859 was one of nine bills Deal vetoed from the 2016 legislative session. The measure would have allowed licensed gun owners to carry their firearms onto public college and technical school campuses in Georgia. The bill would not have allowed guns into athletic events or student housing, including sorority and fraternity houses.
In a veto statement about the bill, Governor Deal said it was "highly questionable" that allowing guns on college campuses would improve student safety.
The Governor acknowledged he has received some harsh criticism for his decision to veto HB 859, including some from state lawmakers. Deal believes, however, that should not impact their ability to work together to achieve his agenda items in the future.
"I don't think that the General Assembly is going to react to that. If they disagree with me, they have several options. They can reintroduce the legislation, they can override my veto, but more importantly, I hope they will focus on other issues that are important to this state and education reform is one of those," said Deal.