High school parents don’t want their teens on armed campuses

Protesters rallied last year against the campus carry bill at the University of Georgia. TAYLOR.CARPENTER@AJC.COM

Alan Miller is the parent of a DeKalb County high school student who plans to attend college classes in the fall as part of Georgia’s Move On When Ready program.

In this column, Miller says the possibility of guns on campus is making him rethink allowing his son to take college classes next year.

The General Assembly passed House Bill 859, which legalizes guns in Georgia college classrooms. Gov. Nathan Deal has expressed reservations about the bill, citing two groups — dual enrolled high school students in college classes and babies and toddlers in campus child care centers.

By Alan Miller

I am a proud parent ready to take advantage of Georgia’s acclaimed Move On When Ready program, but I, like many other parents, am suffering serious misgivings about doing so when I realize my high school child will be around students who may be carrying guns on campus.

I need Gov. Nathan Deal to veto House Bill 859 for me to feel comfortable using Move On When Ready.

HB 859 would force colleges to allow guns on campus. Yes, adding guns to the mix would be dangerous for students who too often abuse alcohol and drugs, and experience significant academic stress and anxiety. And, yes, students carrying guns in class would create all types of problems for faculty who would have to think twice about introducing thought-provoking, but controversial, discussions and debate. At least one faculty member at Georgia State University has, in fact, said he will retire as a result.  And, in Texas, where a similar bill passed last year, they are already losing star professors.

But what about another group who would be put at risk?  The dual enrolled high school students who take advantage of Georgia’s terrific Move On When Ready program that Gov. Deal has rightfully championed. This fantastic program is used by almost 8,000 students across Georgia.

My son is a junior at Dunwoody High School in DeKalb County. He has worked hard and had much success in high school and may now have the opportunity to join the dual enrollment program for next fall at GSU’s Dunwoody campus. This is a program where local high school students choose to study at the college level.

His first period will be in a GSU Dunwoody campus English class and then the rest of his day will be spent at Dunwoody High School as a regular high school student. I’m so proud of all the hard work my son has done to get this far. And I’m thankful Georgia has a program like this that will let him get a taste of college before he enrolls full-time. But I’m outraged at the thought of guns being allowed in his classes. Polling shows 78 percent of Georgians agree with me that guns have no place on our college campuses.

Gov. Deal seems to agree with me that dual enrolled students shouldn’t be anywhere near classrooms with guns. After HB 859 passed the Legislature, the Governor’s Office released a statement that said, “[Governor Deal] believes legitimate points have been made in regards to certain aspects of the ‘campus carry’ bill and he calls on the General Assembly to address these concerns in related legislation before [the Legislature adjourns]. Specifically, these areas of concern include dual enrolled K-12 students who leave school to attend classes at a university or technical college campus, as well as daycare centers on these same campuses.”

The governor is right to have concerns. As a parent of a potential dual enrollment student, I share them. If he signs HB 859 into law, it would potentially put everyone on campus at risk. Not just college students and educators, but also dual enrolled high school kids and children at daycare.

If Gov. Deal is true to his word that allowing guns in daycare centers and around dual enrolled students is concerning, his only course of action is to veto the bill.

It’s not hard to envision scenarios that could play out if HB 859 becomes law.  Routine arguments could escalate and turn deadly. The stress and academic anxiety that so many students face would become an even worse problem when a gun is right there to pick up and fire.

I’m speaking out not just as a Georgian, but as a father of a soon-to-be college-aged kid. Before I send him off to the Dunwoody campus next year, I need to know he’s entering a safe environment. And the year after — when he will decide where to enroll in college for four years — the presence of guns on campus will certainly play a role.

I have talked to other Georgia parents now considering passing up the Move On When Ready opportunity and sending their child out-of-state to a safer campus for college. I urge our governor to veto this dangerous bill.

HB 859 is a bad deal for Georgia.

 

 

 

 

Reader Comments 4

230 comments
GB101
GB101

I am a proud parent ready to take advantage of Georgia’s acclaimed Move On When Ready program, but I, like many other parents, am suffering serious misgivings about doing so when I realize my high school child will be around students who may be carrying guns on campus.


Why is it necessary to point out the obvious again and again and again?  If this proud parent would think rationally for a brief moment he would realize that whether the governor signs the bill or not his high child will be around students who may be carrying guns on campus.  There is nothing to stop them.  


If the governor signs the bill, and if students with carry permits are able to have concealed weapons legally, I suspect that there will be no more guns on campuses than there are now.  I have a permit and rarely have my pistol with me outside my home.  


I am sure that most of the guns on campus after the law is signed will be carried by the same kinds of people that now carry guns on campus, the criminals who rob Tech and Ga State students and don't give a damn whether carrying guns on campus is legal.

class80olddog
class80olddog

For the comment about campus security, remember "when seconds count, the police are only minutes away!"

class80olddog
class80olddog

By the way, when I attended UGA, my girlfriend (later my wife) had an ex-boyfriend who was threatening to kill her and then kill himself.  She lived on-campus, so could not do anything.  I lived off-campus and possessed a gun, so she stayed with me while this threat was active.  She was very glad to have that option.

redweather
redweather

@class80olddog The fact that she was very glad to have that option might have had nothing to do with your firearm. You did say she was your girlfriend, didn't you?

Michael Ward
Michael Ward

Why does the dynamic change simply by stepping on to a campus? There's a considerable chance they pass by or interact with an individual concealing a firearm far more frequently than they realize. Plus, these same people who will be legally allowed to carry concealed on campus, probably keep their firearm locked in their vehicle parked on campus. So in all actuality, the guns are already on campus. I'm not aware of any cases where one of these law-abiding citizens went to retrieve their firearm to settle a debate of dispute a grade. It's extremely unlikely that allowing them to keep their weapon on them is going to lead to any such shootings, as the panicked and uninformed like to routinely predict.

R.L. Paine
R.L. Paine

Why do they feel the need to carry a gun?

J Todd Whiddon
J Todd Whiddon

Thomas Morgan do you not watch the news? Innocent people are mugged and assaulted everyday. I carry a gun because I refuse to be a victim.

J Todd Whiddon
J Todd Whiddon

I got news for. People are already carrying guns on campus, just like everywhere else. Get over it and get used to it.

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

For those advocating allowing carrying of guns in more places, should there be any exceptions?  If so, what would those be and why? 


class80olddog
class80olddog

@DawgVoiceofReason The exceptions should be where adequate means of ensuring that no guns of any type are carried into the area - such as courthouses, and sports events.  Heck, I cannot take a bottle of water into a Georgia game, and when I buy a bottle Coke inside , I must surrender the cap (of course, I outsmarted them - I bring my own CAP - yes, I am a lunatic with a weapon!)

Jules CRush
Jules CRush

yea til one gets ROBBED and MURDERED

Bill Loyd
Bill Loyd

Neither do nut cases or criminals want people carrying on campus, it makes an unsafe work environment for them to rob or kill in.

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

I don't like the idea of there being more guns in general use, especially among college students.  That said, the law, if passed, needs to be consistent and complete.  The exceptions don't make any sense.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@DawgVoiceofReason They already prohibit MANY items from sporting events - such as bottled water.  Dorms and Sororities/fraternities are group homes where other people than the owner might have access to the gun. 

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@class80olddog @DawgVoiceofReason  But, yet, they don't provide a place for those residents to keep their guns.  So, they will keep them in unsafe locations, where they will be stolen or they will not have access to them if needed. 

USG_Prof.
USG_Prof.

Just for starters, here's a short list of properties in Georgia where "carrying" is legally banned. The point here is to support with examples the legal fact that the 2nd amendment only protects a limited right to "carry." It does not protect a totally unrestricted and unlimited right to "carry." There have been gun-free zones since the beginning of American history, including government buildings and schools; why overturn the wisdom of the Founders now? Here is a short list of properties where firearms are banned:

Georgia Square Mall, Athens GA
Six Flags, Atlanta GA
Sugarloaf Mills, Lawrenceville GA
Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta GA
Marietta Square Farmers Market, Marietta GA
Perimeter Mall, Atlanta GA 



Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@USG_Prof.

All PRIVATE properties.  As a private property owner, I can prohibit people from carrying weapons onto my property - to a certain degree.  If you walk into Ga Square Mall carrying a weapon, they can only ASK you to to leave.  If you refuse, then they can call law enforcement for criminal trespass.  It is not a "weapons violation".


Private schools such as Emory can prohibit weapons in the same manner.  The "Campus Carry" law will not apply to them.

Astropig
Astropig

@Lee_CPA2 @USG_Prof.


Exactly. None are under the control of the state,which has to respect the rights of everyone. This isn't about anything but the civil right of the second amendment being exercised by law abiding people.

USG_Prof.
USG_Prof.

@Astropig @Lee_CPA2 @USG_Prof. It all sounds good if you imagine that such law abiding people are infallible, i.e. never make mistakes or cause accidents. You'd be surprised how many of my students wreck their cars in a single semester. And how many of them drop and break or lose their smart phones in a single semester. Or how many of them misplace their expensive textbooks in a single semester. I'm sure none of them plan to make those mistakes, but the mistakes invariably happen. Is it logical to imagine that the same students who are involved in accidents and are careless will be perfectly responsible with their firearms in my work environment? I think not. If the Georgia Carry folks really wanted to present a profile of law-abiding and responsible citizens, they would at least include a mandatory training requirement and require liability insurance on the gun the same way it's required for automobiles. 

USG_Prof.
USG_Prof.

@Lee_CPA2 @USG_Prof. Do you really feel you need to carry a gun into the Georgia Square Mall? Just what exactly is that you think is likely to happpen in there, such that you would need the gun? I am aware that some of the Georgia Carry .org folks have been testing the boundaries of firearms bans on private property (The Atlanta Botanical Garden) and other gun free zones (a Gwinnett County Elementary school). In both cases, the open carry offender was not satisfied to obey the existing firearms prohibition in those locations but knowingly  and willfully "carried" on those properties and then filed lawsuits requesting injunctive relief against being arrested, motions which Georgia courts denied them. This lawless behavior of the open carry extremists among you does not do much to improve the image of the Georgia Carry organization. It shows a general disrespect for existing laws that prohibit guns in certain spaces and a harassing attitude of promoting frivolous lawsuits that tie up the resources of the state and the courts for no good reason. 

USG_Prof.
USG_Prof.

@Astropig @USG_Prof. @Lee_CPA2 What do you think "well-regulated" in the 2nd amendment means lol? So you think that a deadly weapon carrier should have less training requirements or insurance than a motor vehicle operator? That is not "well regulated"; that is practically unregulated. 

USG_Prof.
USG_Prof.

There are no enumerated rights to "carry" on private property or in elementary schools, so yes, frivolous, and defeated in court for that reason. 

Astropig
Astropig

@USG_Prof. @Astropig @Lee_CPA2


This is settled law,like other controversial areas of the constitution.I'm sorry it's not to your liking.There are lots of laws and court rulings that I'm not fond of,but I respect and observe them.

Astropig
Astropig

@USG_Prof.


Nobody here is saying they are.But on property controlled by the state,you just have to respect others rights.Sorry,but that's the way it works.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@USG_Prof.

The Founding Fathers were extremely wary of a national or standing army.  They envisioned a civilian militia comprised of all able bodied men in the city / township / state who would band together in time of need.  "Well regulated" meant well trained and well organized.  They knew that no army could defeat a nation of armed citizens and no despotic tyrant could enslave an armed citizenry either.

Training?  I'm all for it.  Give high school boys and girls ROTC style training INCLUDING weapons training.

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@USG_Prof.  You make some excellent points throughout this thread.  However, what is the purpose of having these specific exceptions (I recognize they are private property but they are also public spaces), that aren't really enforced (in most cases) anyway (in the sense that there is no screening being done and anyone could easily carry a weapon in to those places)? Most of us aren't afraid (most of the time) being in public spaces where carrying is legal.  Why the concern, from your perspective, in these places?  I would like to hear your thoughts.

USG_Prof.
USG_Prof.

@Astropig @USG_Prof. Don't feel sorry for me. The badly written bill, which includes unfunded mandates such as the expense of gun lockers on 20+campuses and staff to supervise the gun storage, may still get vetoed. 

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@USG_Prof. @Lee_CPA2  There have been horrendous mass shootings in malls, both in the US and elsewhere.  I'm not personally afraid, but that is the reason people would want to carry there.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@USG_Prof.

"Do I feel a need to carry into the Ga Square Mall?"

Those who advocate concealed carry advise to carry at all times to maintain the "carry mindset"   We can play what if scenario's all night long if you wish.  What about the single mother of two who works late at the mall and who has just got out of an abusive relationship with a man who has made personal threats against her?  Do you feel she has a need to carry a weapon as she walks to her car in a dark parking lot?

What about the executive who is taking night classes and working on his MBA at GA State?  Do you think he might feel the need to carry as he walks the dark streets of crime ridden Atlanta on his way to the Marta Station?

What about the Ga Tech grad student who lives off campus and studies late at the Tech library?  When she leaves, she is walking the dark neighborhood streets around Tech.

We could go on and on.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@USG_Prof. @Lee_CPA2 "Do you really feel you need to carry a gun into the Georgia Square Mall?"  Did you forget about the Perimeter Mall shooting and death?  And Perimeter Mall's response - let's make it a 'gun-free" zone - now criminals CAN'T bring a gun into the mall.  What stops them?  Uh...Uh...Uh.. give me a second, I'm thinking.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@USG_Prof. @Astropig There are no requirements for gun lockers in this bill - therefore, no "unfunded mandates".  Curious that you don't see a problem with Federal unfunded mandates such as IDEA.

JoeWisenbaker
JoeWisenbaker

Well, very much a viewpoint I would expect from most any parent. Makes me think that part of the motivation for supporting 'campus-carry' is to discourage support for public institutions. After all,  the governance structure of a private school remains free to ban firearms from their campus. The law, as it stands, would just prevent such a thing from being adopted and enforced by those who operate public campuses. Should Governor Deal not veto the bill, how long will it be before voices are raised demanding that state dollars fully follow students into such private institutions where parents feel (and rightly so) that their sons and daughters will be educated in safer surroundings?


Astropig
Astropig

@JoeWisenbaker


I'll be the first (that didn't take long,did it?).If an institution takes any state aid,it should be subject to all state laws and codes.

Aunt T
Aunt T

While I am not in favor of this bill as a college professor, this argument is ridiculous. Move on When Ready and other acceleration programs are wonderful, but parents have to understand that when you enroll a child in this program you are sending them into an environment established for students 18 years old and older. There will be topics, situations and issues that are not appropriate for a minor, Colleges and professors cannot be expected to modify their standards for younger students. Parents have a choice. Thy can protect a  a minor child in a setting with certain prohibitions or they can have their child take college classes on campus with adults. Thy cannot do both.

USG_Prof.
USG_Prof.

@Aunt T Don't feel that you have to concede too much ground to the open-carry extremists. Ideas are powerful, but they can't lead to accidental death in a classroom, so I think your comparison does not hold. Faculty, staff, and administrators have an obligation to make the learning environment as safe and risk-free as possible. And public universities have been gun-free zone since the beginning of U.S. history going all the way back to the founding of the  University of Virginia.


In the most sweeping affirmation of 2nd amendment rights in U.S. legal history (D.C. vs. Heller, 2008), conservative Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion, stating that the individual has the right to possess and bear a firearm for his or her personal safety but that schools and government buildings could and should remain gun-free zones. To prepare to pass this bill, last year, the Georgia legislature approved some language stating that "buildings used by Georgia's public institutions of higher education are not government buildings" (ridiculous). I guess next they will pass some legislation saying "day is night, and night is day." 

The gun lovers are always saying the "gun-free zones" make kids sitting ducks, except that's totally misleading. Campuses are not, in fact, gun free zones. All USG campuses I know of have plenty of campus police officers who "carry,", and the trained officers  at my campus are are all the "carriers" we need and want. At my campus, I bump into our diligent campus security officers in every building at all times of day and night, and they are always "carrying" and are a more than adequate deterrent to potential robbers or active shooters. 

The right of a small minority of students who desire to "carry" on campus does not trump the right of the great majority of students who don't want the "carriers" to bring their guns into the classroom to be free from the risk the gun-toters represent.

Astropig
Astropig

@USG_Prof. @Aunt T

"... the right of the great majority of students who don't want the "carriers" to bring their guns into the classroom to be free from the risk the gun-toters represent."


Could you please show me that enumerated right in our founding documents? Anywhere?You may not like it (thats obvious), but the people in support of this are going about it via the legal/political process. They are peacefully trying to change a law that they disagree with.They're not taking over buildings or carrying guns about and seeking confrontation. They're doing it the right way and I support them because I believe in the rule of law-not "mob rule".

USG_Prof.
USG_Prof.

None of the rights listed in the bill of rights are unlimited. We have freedom of speech, but we  can't slander. We have freedom of the press, but we can't libel. We have freedom of religion, but we also have the establishment clause, so that government can't push religion in our faces. Similarly, government can protect gun rights, but it should not be misused as a tool to push guns in the faces of the general public who don't want them around. Gun lovers have the right to own and carry their guns, but mayl have to accept that they don't have a Constitutional right to push them into public places and spaces where the majority do not want them. The latest U.S. Supreme Court ruling  affirms the individual's right to own a gun and forr r the protection of him or herself. It also affirms that historically gun-free zones, such as government buildings and schools can remain so. I'm sure you aware that two of the framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, Jefferson and Madison, didn't see any contradiction with authoring the 2nd amendment and at the same time banning guns on the University of  Virginia campus.

But let's get to the heart of the matter. Why is this issue so important to you? Are you attending a USG school, or do you have a son or daughter or other loved one who does? Would  you would be passive if someone tried to legislate changes to the safety of your workplace without your consent? Do you think the bill as written really makes sense? Why do you think students need to bring guns into adminisrative buildings, faculty offices, classrooms, labs, and student life activity spaces but don't need them at sporting events, in dorms, and and in sorority or frat houses? Do you think students need to be protected from faculty lol? On the other hand, I have read of young women being abducted after concerts, after sporting events, and inside fraternity houses and dorms. If students  can carry guns in all of my workspaces but are not trusted with them in their own living spaces, there's no equal protection for faculty in this bill then now is there? 

Astropig
Astropig

@USG_Prof.


" Why is this issue so important to you?"


Because I believe in the rule of law,and don't put my trust in "polls",or strong feelings or personal biases.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@USG_Prof. @Aunt T "campus security officers in every building at all times of day and night, and they are always "carrying" and are a more than adequate deterrent to potential robbers or active shooters. "  too bad they did not help the UT- Austin girl.

MoreySims
MoreySims

if students are allowed to bring their piece to class, can professors request in the syllabus that they keep their weapons' safety on and to use silencers in case shooting starts???

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

I can carry at the mall. Why are these hysterical helicopter parents allowing their children to go there to shop?

USG_Prof.
USG_Prof.

@RoyalDawg The mall isn't public land, is it? If the owner of the mall had a policy of no guns, he or she could request that you leave the property, couldn't he or she? Your 2nd amendment rights are protected AND regulated. Even your open carry rights are not unrestricted, isn't that correct?