Gov. Deal vetoes guns on college campuses because it wouldn’t make students safer

Sen. Nan Orrock speaks during a March rally opposing campus carry. The group delivered 30,000 petitions to Gov. Nathan Deal’s office urging a veto of the bill that would allow those 21 years and older to carry a weapon on college campus. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

To the dismay of many in his party, Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed the controversial campus carry  bill today.

Our AJC ace political writer Greg Bluestein reports Deal went up against General Assembly leadership in refusing to sign House bill 859, which was opposed by higher education leaders in the state and many students and their parents.

“If the intent of HB 859 is to increase safety of students on college campuses, it is highly questionable that such would be the result,” Deal wrote in his veto message.

Some parents told me they would not allow their kids to attend colleges where they could sit next to classmates with guns. Here is the AJC story. It’s a tough political position for the governor who is crossing the Legislature and pro-gun forces in Georgia with this veto.

Here is the statement of Hank Huckaby, Chancellor of the University System of Georgia, on the veto:

We sincerely appreciate Gov. Deal’s veto of House Bill 859. We recognize this was not an easy decision for the Governor to make.

The vast majority of our faculty, staff, parents and students are concerned about firearms on campus. As leaders of the University System of Georgia, we must provide the highest levels of safety and security to the 318,000 students we serve.

The Board of Regents, our 29 Presidents and campus police chiefs are fully committed to enhancing all aspects of our campus safety efforts across the university system. We look forward to presenting our campus safety report to the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House by August 1, 2016.

Among those praising Deal’s decision is Ed L. Schrader, president of private, not-for-profit Brenau University in Gainesville.  Schrader was an early signer among the 350 U.S. college and university presidents of a 2012 open letter to lawmakers in Washington and around the country urging immediate action to curb gun violence and reform gun safety laws.

Here is his statement:

 I sincerely appreciate Gov. Deal’s courageous leadership, good common sense and serious concern for the welfare of all members of our college communities, students and staff. I have been vocally opposed to this idea since the first time it reared its head several years ago.

Along with every other college and university president in Georgia, I have continued to communicate that opposition to our legislators with every iteration of guns-on-campus legislation that has come up year after year in spite of overwhelming opposition by the people in this state. Some of the bills have had a direct impact on private colleges and universities, but all have deleterious consequences for higher education in Georgia and the rest of the United States.

I was born and raised in Mississippi in a gun-owning and hunting family, and we shot things – just not people or bald eagles. I believe that on a college campus, where students sometime receive grades the do not appreciate, classrooms and firearms are not a good mix. Also, social events common to most colleges, and sporting events where feelings and alcohol consumption run high, are not conducive to a highly armed population of party goers. There are many, many other reasons to oppose this kind of ill-conceived, unnecessary and potentially dangerous legislation. The one most compelling, however, is that time and again police and sheriff professionals comment that students with guns are much more likely to be shot than unarmed pedestrians, and they are often shot with their own guns taken away by a would-be robber.

Back to original blog:

In the next few hours, Gov. Nathan Deal has to decide whether to allow guns on the campuses and in the classrooms of Georgia’s public colleges.

After the campus carry bill won easy victory in the General Assembly, Deal asked the Legislature to make common sense changes: amend House Bill 859 to ban guns from on-campus child care centers, faculty and administrative office space and disciplinary meetings.

House Speaker David Ralston and other leaders refused. The bill exempts dorms, frats and sporting events. So, fans and football players at games need to be safeguarded from firearms but 2-year-olds in campus day cares do not?

Deal has already angered conservatives with his veto of the religious liberty bill. So, the question is whether he will risk further alienation of an important GOP voting bloc.

Deal told the AJC:  “There’s no easy option.”

The governor ought to have amended that statement to say, “There’s no easy political option.” Because this is a political battle, not a public safety one.

As the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus notes:

While mass shootings such as those that occurred at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University attract national attention, the fact is that in the universe of gun violence, America’s colleges and universities are among the safest environments for students. Much safer than the communities that surround them. A U.S. Justice Department study found that 93% of violence against college students aged 18 to 24 occurs off campus . This statistic is due in no small part to the fact that virtually all colleges and universities prohibit or severely restrict firearm possession on campus.

Because Deal is a father and grandfather, I think he’ll veto the campus carry. Across the state, faculty, students and parents are pleading with him to do so. And they are the Georgians who will have to live with the governor’s decision, not the legislators seeking to placate the pro-guns-everywhere lobby.

What’s your prediction — veto or not?

 

Reader Comments 0

76 comments
MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

Wanted to add this:


Here is the statement of Hank Huckaby, Chancellor of the University System of Georgia, on the veto:


We sincerely appreciate Governor Deal’s veto of House Bill 859. We recognize this was not an easy decision for the Governor to make. 

The vast majority of our faculty, staff, parents and students are concerned about firearms on campus. As leaders of the University System of Georgia, we must provide the highest levels of safety and security to the 318,000 students we serve. 

 The Board of Regents, our 29 Presidents and campus police chiefs are fully committed to enhancing all aspects of our campus safety efforts across the university system. We look forward to presenting our campus safety report to the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House by August 1, 2016.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Sorta ironic on the day Deal vetoes the Campus Carry bill, the AJC runs two articles about a student stabbed to death at Fort Valley College and another student raped by four Morehouse students.

Safe campuses indeed....

Perhaps if Deal walked from the library at Tech to off campus housing or if he walked from Ga State to the Marta station at night - without his armed bodyguard - he would see the folly of this veto.

jerryeads
jerryeads

NOW it's time to start replacing the looney-tune idiots in the legislature owned lock stock and barrel by the NRA. I've carried for thirty years and am honored to teach on a college campus. HB 859 was badly written, inconsiderate and ill conceived. It ignored the wishes of the VAST majority of everyone leading, teaching at, or enrolled in higher education in the state. The legislature and the leadership of the NRA are egregiously out of touch with the citizens they are supposed to serve.

Will Jones
Will Jones

All true Atlantans, Georgians, and Americans ought now to be holding Gov. Deal in our thoughts and prayers that, God willing he may be Donald Trump's pick for VP to balance his ticket; or if their convention be brokered that it is Nathan Deal for POTUS2016. America needs what he brought to Georgia - "rain in due season," grace, and prosperity.

redweather
redweather

It's been vetoed, as has the bill that would allow students to have tasers.

eulb
eulb

@redweather Are you sure Deal vetoed HB 792 (campus carry lite)?  I haven't found anything indicating that he acted on that bill at all.

Spinoza
Spinoza

I hope he will veto this egregious proposal and we will find out at any moment.  There are many good reasons to oppose this: 


Faculty believe that their academic freedom may be comprised when discussing controversial topics. 


First rate faculty may leave and distinguished faculty from elsewhere may not come.  This is especially the case with Tech and UGA.


Some parents will opt out. 


Our campuses will be made less safe.

GA Educator
GA Educator

Hopefully he will VETO HB 859 and sign HB 792 ("campus carry lite" in order to appease the base). 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

I believe that Gov. Deal will VETO the college-carry gun bill today.  He has shown remarkable political courage in doing the right thing for all Georgians through his wise use of his veto power of late.  I shall be surprised if he does not veto this potentially dangerous bill.  Thank you, Gov. Deal, for becoming the statesman for Georgians whom you have shown yourself to be.

j770p
j770p

Deal isn't running for re-election, so there is no base to worry about upsetting. The state congress refused to make some common sense amendments to the campus carry bill as Deal requested; that was probably retribution for the veto of the religious liberty bill. By requesting the amendments to the bill, Deal made it obvious that he did not believe in the bill as is (or at least that was his political posture). Nothing has changed with the bill, so if he signs it now, he is really swallowing his pride.


It's a shame that the party of "local control" is so adamant about passing a blanket law that leaves individual institutions no means to govern themselves. This proposal *might* be a good idea for campuses in high crime areas, but it should be left to those schools to decide what constitutes the safest learning environments for their students. 

Josh Phillips
Josh Phillips

@j770p They didn't make the changes because Deal asked for the changes about a week before the end of the 2016 session. The religious liberty bill was vetoed after they refused the changes. Please do your research before you post.


People keep using words like 'common sense'. This law only allows carry of licensed individuals. It takes paperwork, fingerprints being sent to the FBI, an extensive background check, and about $80 to obtain a license. They are only valid for 5 years. After they expire, you have to go through the whole process again. All that being said, there is no law that is going to stop people from bringing guns on campus.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Ordinarily, I think Deal would veto. However, he has already stirred up many of the followers with the religious discrimination bill. Not sure he has what it takes to p***  off the base again.

Starik
Starik

@Wascatlady As I've said before, I care nothing about the bill. I'll bet that people who are upset by the veto voted for Deal for Governor, both terms.  How does it go?  "Fool me once..."

Caius
Caius

IQ test for carry permit.


Spinoza
Spinoza

@Caius That might disqualify most of the GOP who passed this law.

taylor48
taylor48

If it takes campus carry to keep our college campuses safe, then why are guns prohibited from the State House?  Wouldn't they also need concealed carry in order to stay safe?

Astropig
Astropig

@taylor48


"If it takes campus carry to keep our college campuses safe, then why are guns prohibited from the State House? "


I'm guessing that it's because students don't have an armed posse of state troopers to guard them as they move about.Students inhabit an environment many orders of magnitude larger than the state capitol.It presents many opportunities for criminals to lie in wait or blend into the background disguised as students and strike at a moment of opportunity.This happens now all too frequently and will continue no matter what.Cops can't be everywhere,all the time.

Spinoza
Spinoza

@Astropig @taylor48 Nonsense.  College campuses are among the safest environments in the country and that is a statistical fact.  There is no need for any stupidity about police escorts or vigilante action.  We have campus police and safe campuses.  Start encouraging untrained young people to carry guns and you threaten our tertiary level institutions and their goals.

Spinoza
Spinoza

@Astropig @taylor48 No, the state assembly members lack the courage of their convictions.  They are hypocrites and cowards who are willing to ram guns down the throats of other people by allowing them in their workplaces but fear the consequences of the policy in their own case.

HILUX
HILUX

Gov. Deal has already proved himself to be far more independent thinking than Maureen. 

On what issue has she differed with the teachers' union?

HILUX
HILUX

@MaureenDowney @HILUX 

Maureen, does the National Education Association identify as a union? 

Does it have members and staff in Georgia? Does it expend resources here seeking to influence legislation? Can you cite a major issue on which you differ with them?

http://www.nea.org/home/18469.htm

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@HILUX EduKtor, I have to admire your adherence to script and your surfeit of screen names -- no matter what the topic, you bring it back to Georgia's mythical teacher unions.

Spinoza
Spinoza

@MaureenDowney @HILUX Thanks for your article and I hope you are correct.  I teach philosophy in one of our universities and we have been working hard to stop this.  I am not optimistic. 

Ed Hallman
Ed Hallman

The song of the south, give me kickback money!

DrewDennis
DrewDennis

IF Deal cares about the safety of college students and teachers he'll sign.  If he cares more about out of state funds/infuence and brain washed soccer moms who don't even HAVE college students...he'll veto.  Simple as that.

Mike Turkington
Mike Turkington

@DrewDennis I know several "soccer moms" who carry.  If you are not willing to pull the trigger, don't waste your money.  I would pull it faster than you could say "body bag".

PJ25
PJ25

@DrewDennis I know a bunch of soccer moms who carry as well.  It's the in-town liberals who are against this because they are petrified of gun crimes when they see at least 3 ITP murders every night on the news and those criminals don't care that the liberals live on a trendy street with $500K old shacks, they will rob and kill them regardless.  

Starik
Starik

I don't care one way or another, but it's typical that both sides believe "everybody" agrees with their position and that people who don't are "stupid."

Spinoza
Spinoza

@Starik Not really.  78% of the state's citizens don't agree with this policy.  The Chancellor, Board of Regents, every president in the system, the vast majority of faculty, staff, administrators, and a majority of students oppose it. 

And yes it is a stupid policy to allow people who can even be legally blind pack and are not required to have any firearms safety training bringing concealed weapons into a college classroom or library.  It makes our campuses and my workplace less safe and is merely a concession to a radical gun culture's lobbying power and the willingness of the GOP dominated legislature to do their bidding.

Andy McClure
Andy McClure

It matters little. If he signs, limited carry will be the law. Of he vetoes, there is a criminal case in Denali over hb826, signed by deal in 2014 but was never written into the final code. When the judge in that dismisses all charges against the defendant it will mean unlimited carry on school and college campuses, as 826 originally intended. Either way, campus carry is a done deal.

redweather
redweather

So what's this case you're talking about?  Got a case number? Who's the judge?

redweather
redweather

@eulb @redweather That might be the case.  Wonder why Andy McClure thinks the judge will dismiss all charges, and why that in turn will mean unlimited carry on school and college campuses. I suppose some judge might rule that the law is unconstitutional, but I doubt that would fly in the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court. 

Dave Marcus
Dave Marcus

More guns in more places = more accidents, more stupidity, more deaths

Melissa Little Phillips
Melissa Little Phillips

I think we should have carry rights at all schools, not just college. Teachers should have the ability to carry, as long as he or she has a carry permit. What exactly is a locked glass door going to do to stop an idiot with a gun intent on murdering children? But if the same locked glass door had someone on the other side with a gun, especially if they have taken the time to train themsleves…well something tells me there would be fewer school shootings.

Amy Anderson Jones
Amy Anderson Jones

Yeah here in Alabama where a teacher is fighting for the "right" to have sex with students over 16 - I wouldn't trust the average teacher with a gun. But if teachers WERE permitted to carry, I would hope it would only be for the fingerprinted guns because there are too many badass high schoolers out there who could and would get hold of that gun and shoot a teacher, a student, or themselves.

Spinoza
Spinoza

Let's see some real evidence that this will prevent school shootings.  I don't see any in your post. Why would you think that allowing untrained people bring concealed weapons into a classroom would add to safety? There is no requirement that people train or demonstrate any knowledge of guns.


Despite mass shootings which are rare on college campuses these are among the safest environments in our society.  I have a much higher, though still low, likelihood of being injured or killed in the commute to the college were I teach than on my campus.

Accidents have already occurred on campuses and this is more likely to happen than any crime prevention. 

Already prominent faculty and administrators have left universities in states with such laws and our flagship institutions in Georgia Tech and UGA will experience more difficulty in recruiting and retaining nationally prominent professors as a result of this.  Virtually no one in this system thinks otherwise. 

And believe it or not some of us don't want to be forced to carry guns

Ellen Babcock:

because of a mindless radical gun culture's political influence and desire to shove guns into every corner of society.

 



Astropig
Astropig

Nothing changes if he signs this bill or vetoes it.Criminals are not obeying the law or campus policy anyway, some students and their profs are carrying anyway.


Vetoing it simply extends the status quo.As more students become victims of criminals,the risk is high that a much more comprehensive piece of legislation emerges later and gets passed. No matter what,the issue won't just go away.

Falcaints
Falcaints

@Astropig There is absolutely no logic in the theory that we are all safer if we are all "carrying".  Untrained want to be "Action Heroes" are more dangerous than would be criminals.

Klaude
Klaude

@Falcaints @Astropig Well, actually there is a great deal of logic to it, not to mention statistical data. Does logic suggest that criminals prefer that their victims have the ability to shoot back, or not? Your statement makes no sense and has absolutely no basis in fact.

I think the majority of people who make the "untrained action heroes" comments simply do not trust themselves to make a proper decision when faced with a threat, therefore are unable to trust anyone else when faced with the same circumstances. These people probably should not carry firearms. They do not, however, enjoy the right to prevent those of us who are law abiding citizens from being able to defend themselves.

Personally, I will never go somewhere that firearms are prohibited, because that is exactly the place that criminals seek. The overwhelming number of shootings, both individual and mass, have occurred in gun-free zones. That's exactly why they don't get stopped by legally armed citizens, because legally armed citizens tend to obey the law, and don't carry their weapons where they're not allowed.


But, I know I waste my time making these arguments here. Just had a few moment to burn. Headed off to the range to improve my action hero training...

AnnetD853
AnnetD853

@Astropig Did you even read the article? The "status quo" is that campuses are far safer than their surrounding communities because of on campus gun prohibition.

Astropig
Astropig

@AnnetD853 @Astropig


I don't think you read what I wrote. I am simply pointing out that criminals have no respect for current law or policy.That's not going to change.


Law abiding citizens will join the above in breaking the law by carrying as they have admitted in some cases that they do now.This includes some professors.


I said nothing whatsoever about action heroes,shoot 'em ups,or whatever bogus point you're trying to make.It seems like you can't accept the fact of what I'm saying and you're just wanting to (pardon the simile) "shoot the messenger".


Guns aren't going to go away on campus no matter what happens to this piece of legislation.Idiot liberals, however,do run the risk of getting a more permissive bill down the road that has fewer restrictions in it.

Astropig
Astropig

@Falcaints @Astropig


"There is absolutely no logic in the theory that we are all safer if we are all "carrying".


Does this (proposed) law mandate carrying? Or are you too stupid to understand that it would make carrying a firearm optional ?


And where did I say that we would all be safer carrying a deadly weapon? I wouldn't trust someone like you with that responsibility.You're clearly too emotional.

AnnetD853
AnnetD853

@Astropig @AnnetD853 Take a breath, Astropig! I was merely referring to the statistics stated in the article which show that campuses are LESS safe than their surrounding communities because guns aren't permitted. Of course, many people disregard the laws of the land and get away with it; that is a universal truth that will never change. Can that -- combined with name-calling -- really be your BEST argument for passing this bill?? 

Astropig
Astropig

@AnnetD853 @Astropig


Well, again, this is not going to be the last word on this if vetoed.It will happen at some point.I know that the advocates of personal defense won't just give up (nor should they).At some point in the future,proponents of this will make it happen.That's why I'm not sweating the details in the here and now.

AnnetD853
AnnetD853

@Astropig @AnnetD853  I just don't buy the self-defense argument.  If you read the news, it's clear that more lax gun laws exacerbate the problem of senseless gun killings; most of which are tragic accidents, many involving innocent children.If in fact Georgia's university students feel the need to carry a gun in self-defense, this sends a frightening message to the rest of the world . Full disclosure, I live in California; my son was accepted to uni in GA and is so excited, however we/he are against this whole-heartedly. I believe GA will face a big problem attracting out-of-state students, businesses and tourists if HB859 becomes law. We'll see, but meanwhile, let's have a civilized debate. We're all in this together. 

Klaude
Klaude

@AnnetD853 @Astropig  p { margin-bottom: 0.1in; line-height: 120%; }

Ah ha! California.


BTW, congrats on your son attending school in GA. He will do well here, and hopefully he'll have at least one professor that will undo some of the government indoctrination that so many young people have been subjected to.


To your point about more lax gun laws exacerbating the problem of senseless gun killings, the facts and statistics are quite the opposite. Accidents do happen, but are extremely rare. OTOH, the number of people who are injured or killed by criminals with guns is far greater by magnitudes. Most occur in cities, run by liberals, with already draconian gun laws. If you compare violent crime in Atlanta vs Los Angeles, or San Fran, or Chicago, Baltimore, DC, New York, etc., you will find that the violent crime here is a good bit lower, and I submit that this is precisely because Georgia has far better gun freedoms than these other cities, and many more people carry. Most carry concealed, but some openly. Either is acceptable in Georgia so long as they have a permit (vetted by the FBI, BTW).


Georgia will not have any difficulty attracting students, businesses, etc. regardless of HB859. The reason it is becoming a debate at all is for all the out-of-state people and native liberals (many coming from CA as well as Yankees) with their anti-freedom ideas and big central government leanings. I would love to see Georgia become a Constitutional Carry State, as was initially intended by our very wise Founding Fathers.


Also, remember this… the 2nd Amendment was not written so people could hunt or target shoot. It was so that they could defend themselves from a tyrannical government. Armed people are citizens, disarmed people are subjects. Ask Hitler, Mussolini, and Obama which they prefer.

Starik
Starik

@AnnetD853 @Astropig The status quo is that the campuses are surrounded by unsafe communities, which generate criminals who hunt in and around campuses, making them unsafe.

Spinoza
Spinoza

@Astropig Really? And what evidence do you have that professors are breaking the law by concealing weapons on their person?  None. 


Encouraging people to arm themselves on safe college campuses is sheer stupidity.  And there is no reason whatsoever to believe that more students will become victims of criminals.  Have you read anything about this issue and crime?

Spinoza
Spinoza

@Klaude @Falcaints @Astropig Actually you don't offer a shred of evidence for anything. 


But you might consider this.  The law doesn't require anyone to have any training and in conjunction with the "stand your ground law" it does indeed encourage "action heroes" to engage in irresponsible action.

Spinoza
Spinoza

@Astropig @AnnetD853 No evidence, no argument, repetitive, and ad hominem.  I am so glad that you are not in my logic class as I am sure you wouldn't survive my first exam.

Spinoza
Spinoza

@Astropig @AnnetD853 No, they will not make it happen if it is opposed and put into the light. 


I would like to see it on a state wide referendum but its framers are too chicken to do that.

Spinoza
Spinoza

@AnnetD853 @Astropig I teach in the system here and I wish your son the best.


This is one of the worst bills (even worse than the Voter ID) proposed to address a non-existent problem.  It makes me look forward to my retirement.

Spinoza
Spinoza

@Klaude @AnnetD853 @Astropig Breathtaking ignorance from top to bottom. Especially at the bottom. Such stupidity shows how beyond the reach of reason you are.  No more need be said.

gapeach101
gapeach101

@Astropig "Nothing changes if he signs this bill or vetoes it.Criminals are not obeying the law "

Isn't  that the case with any law?  Are you suggesting we not bother with laws because someone is always going to break it?

Astropig
Astropig

@Spinoza @Astropig


"And what evidence do you have that professors are breaking the law by concealing weapons on their person?"


Some have written in here and admitted that they do.If you weren't so busy foaming at the mouth,you may have read that.