UGA and other Georgia colleges: Do we need armed students for safety?

Parents sending their kids off to college this fall may want to add a few things to the packing list besides raincoat, drying rack and extra long sheets. Based on the state Legislature’s apocalyptic view of Georgia’s campuses, students could also use a flak jacket, gun rack and extra ammo.

A bill barreled through the House Monday that will allow anyone 21 or older with a weapon license to carry a gun anywhere on a public college or university campus, except at sporting events or inside dormitories, fraternities and sorority houses. House Bill 859 now moves to the Senate, where we can only hope sanity prevails.

The House approved the measure 113-to-59 over the objections of the Board of Regents and most Georgians. A 2014 AJC poll found 78 percent of Georgians oppose guns on campuses, including 71 percent of Republicans.

In Texas, where the Legislature approved concealed handguns on its public campuses last year, private colleges were extended the option to also permit weapons on their campuses. None has done so.

In explaining the need to open Georgia’s public campuses to guns, State Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, said, “I wish these young men and women who walk among these schools didn’t have to do this, but in today’s world, it’s a must.”

State Rep. Mandi L. Ballinger, R-Canton, predicted regret for House members who opposed guns on campus, warning them that they will remember their fateful “no” vote one day “as you hug your husband, daughter and son and send them off to class” — and apparently to their doom.

In making a case for campus carry, state Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, conjured the strangest imagery of the day, at least to this mother of four and new grandmother. He described a young mother pushing her baby down North Avenue in Atlanta fretting she couldn’t show the little tyke her alma mater, Georgia Tech, because, along with a diaper bag, she was toting a handgun.

Here I am at UGA blissfully unaware of the dangers that lurk everywhere, according to House members who approved students bringing guns on campus on Monday.

Here I am at UGA with my son Joey, blissfully unaware of the dangers that lurk everywhere, according to House members who approved students bringing guns on this campus and other public colleges on Monday.

I don’t know what Georgia these lawmakers call home, but it is so beset with mayhem that college students cannot safely walk around the arches at UGA, gather under the Tech Tower or lounge on the front lawn at Valdosta State. Yet, when you examine crime statistics, most Georgia campuses report little violent crime.

Lawmakers cited sexual attacks as a reason to arm students, but rape and sexual assault occur most often in social settings where the victim knows the offender. Half of such assaults involve alcohol. Arming students with information about alcohol dangers, date rape and affirmed consent would be more beneficial than arming them with handguns.

Studies link accessibility to guns to increased risk of suicide. A handgun within easy reach of a student upset over a faltering romance or a failing grade can turn a momentary disappointment into an immutable tragedy.

Parents worried about their children’s safety at college will not be consoled by adding armed classmates to a volatile brew of drugs, alcohol and youthful irresponsibility. Ask parents how often their college students report lost, stolen or damaged smartphones and imagine what will happen with handguns, which students cannot store in their dorms under the proposed law and will have to keep elsewhere.

“No one needs a Ph.D. to understand that introducing guns among binge-drinking, drug-using, hormone-raging college students is not good policy,” said college professor and state Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates, during last week’s House debate.

In addition, the “Die Hard” scenario lawmakers tout of armed students repelling bad guys is mythical thinking and dangerous. According to the FBI data, verified examples of guns being used in self-defense are dwarfed by how often they’re involved in crimes, accidental shootings and suicides.

I visited the University of Georgia Saturday with my 17-year-old twins. As I wandered around the lovely campus and the charming downtown yesterday, I thought, “Incredible.” (Kudos to our tour guide, a UGA senior English major in the honors program who graduated Walton High in Cobb.)

If you believe the view of our legislators, I should have been yelling, “Incoming.”

Reader Comments 0

19 comments
Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Three anti-gun articles in less than a week.  Must be end of the month and Maureen is desperate for viewers.

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Once again, you must be 21 years old to obtain a Ga Weapons Permit.  Which means those eligible to carry onto campus will be late Junior or Senior students.


The reality is that carrying a weapon is a PITA - which is why the vast majority of GWP holders don't carry every time they step out of the house.  I imagine the novelty will wear off very quickly for the newly minted student permit holders.


"No one needs a Ph.D. to understand that introducing guns among binge-drinking, drug-using, hormone-raging college students is not good policy" said a professor.   Hyperbole much?

What about the forty year old professional who is taking night classes at Ga State?


Every time states have enacted concealed carry permit laws, the opponents have predicted "wild west shootouts" and "blood running in the streets".   The reality is that crime by weapons permit holders is statistically non-existent.   Law abiding folks obeying the law.  Imagine that.

Marykingporter
Marykingporter

I don't think there is much of an armed robbery problem under the Arch in Athens, but I would not feel terribly safe in the library at Georgia State in the ATL. I'm torn about this bill, I support the right to carry, but when I was in college I also saw an awful lot of emotional, irresponsible behaviour by fellow students (often fueled by alcohol & drugs). I am afraid that rival Frats may be involved in a shootout someday.

Edward Sullivan
Edward Sullivan

@Marykingporter How many of those emotional, irresponsible fellow students were 21 years of age or older? Remember this bill did not lower the required age at which you can attain a permit.

jerryeads
jerryeads

"As a honors student", Cole? Please proof your entries.

Concealed permits don't help much in this state. I'm glad we at least require a background check, but any blithering idiot who hasn't committed a felony can haul their midnight special without even having a clue which end to point. We at least require that someone who gets a driver's license not kill the examiner on a quick trip around the block and answer a few simple questions about stop signs. But nada for a permit to carry a firearm. AND, police can't even ASK someone if they even HAVE a permit. 

And yes, I carry. For about 30 years. Didn't care for the first 40, but was taught how to hunt for dinner by the time I was 10. I work on a campus. Seems to me there are many potential unintended and tragic consequences for campus carry. Looks like we'll find out.

Edward Sullivan
Edward Sullivan

@jerryeads Wow, your response is rambling and makes little sense. Yet you start by instructing some one else on proofing their entries? If you are concerned with what might happen you should research the results of campus carry in other states. I believe you will find that crime rates have dropped where instituted. I believe in Colorado the drop was somewhere around 70%. Now you will have to pay attention because there is much misinformation out there...like this article stating "Texas past concealed carry on campus last fall.". Actually Texas has permitted concealed carry on campus since 1995, the new law merely allows permit holders to step off the side walks and into the class room. I want you to do the research, but I already know that you will find no issues in any state that has already passed campus carry. You might well also remember that you must be 21 to have a permit so the law is not going to apply to a very large portion of the campus community.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

Let anyone who opposed guns on campus end up in the future with a family member who is raped, brutalized, or murdered on campus, and suddenly that fact that it is "a rare occurrence" will be irrelevant.  And they'll turn around and scream at the politicians who "turned my child into a defenseless target" by not allowing them to protect themselves.


Or, if the child who is brutalized is someone they don't know, try to turn it into another sob story that enables them to take away even more kid's ability to protect themselves.


Typically liberal blindness - don't think about letting kids protect themselves, until it's too late.  And don't "let an oppty" go to waste, especially if it's tragic, to promote their liberal ideas.


Meanwhile, in cities which have the strictest gun control laws, we also have the highest gun crime rates.  But ignore that fact...since it doesn't fit the narrative.  


Sad.

Cole Daniel
Cole Daniel

That 2014 poll is old and irrelevant. If you look at multiple polls from ABC, Fox and others over 60% (depending on what poll) approve of HB 859. 


This bill is clearly written for those students who have a license to carry. The vast majority of these students the law would directly effect, by retaining their Second Amendment rights, are either non-traditional undergraduates, graduates, staff, or faculty. Therefore the statement regarding "youth" is false. 


The vast majority of gun related incidents, and the other incidents mentioned in this article, occur on "gun free zone," according to what was said at the GA House of Representatives.


Many of the ideas posted in this article are just repeats of what was said in 2014. However, its been nearly two years and all the bad predictions of what would happen with the "guns everywhere" law have been proven unfounded. This is likely why the support for bills like HB 859 have switched, as I indicated above. 


In the end this article is extremely misleading.


As a honors student, and leader, in Kennesaw, I fully support HB 859 and urge my legislators to respect the Second Amendment right and pass the bill. 

Q1225
Q1225

Great idea!  Now criminals can steal students' guns in addition to their iPhones.

Cole Daniel
Cole Daniel

@MaureenDowney @Q1225 The current law already allows students, and others, to store their guns in their cars. This applies, nearly, everywhere including colleges and universities. 


If HB 859 passes the issue of guns stolen from cars should be reduced, since they will not be in the car.


Ultimately, if you are worried about theft, it is much easier to steal from a parked car  then to do so off someone concealed carrying. Therefore HB 859 is clearly the better option. 

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@Cole Daniel @MaureenDowney @Q1225 But now we will have students going to and from cars to get their guns to bring to class or dining halls or just walking about, something they cannot do now. 

Q1225
Q1225

@Cole Daniel @MaureenDowney @Q1225 Do you honestly believe a student will have the time/wherewithal to draw their gun during a surprise robbery by someone who's probably also armed?

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@Q1225 I was stunned recently to read the number of guns stolen from cars and pickups in Georgia. I am assuming students will end up storing their handguns in their cars in school parking lots. 


OriginalProf
OriginalProf

Very few of the Georgia legislators pushing this bill seem to have any realistic idea of  the contemporary college campus or the students who inhabit it. Rep. Karla Drenner does, but that's because as a professor she knows what they're like. As a USG professor, my greatest fear was not some outside maniac bursting into a campus building with an assault rifle, but one of the stressed-out undergraduates finally going over the edge and taking out his mean classmates and hard-hearted professor. (Not to be sexist, but just about all the mass shooters have been young males.)


But I made it safely to retirement before this crazy campus carry law was passed.

William1952
William1952

It's not sexist if it's true. I can't understand why folks don't understand that basic truth.