Opinion: Guns on Georgia college campuses endanger students

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

I have been in the northeast for a week and returned today to find Georgia back where it was a year ago with a proposal to open its public college campus to guns.

The General Assembly has revived its campus carry bill, a bill the overwhelming majority of Georgians who attend colleges, teach at them or send their children to them oppose. (Count me in as I may have my twins at the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech next year.)

The outcry last year was so great that Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed House Bill 859.

And, yet, here we go again.

This year’s bill, House Bill 280, is essentially a repeat of the 2016 model: It would allow anyone 21 or older with a weapons license to carry a gun most anywhere on a public college or university campus. Dormitories, fraternities and sorority houses would be off-limits, as would athletic events. However, the new legislation also exempts preschools on college campuses. Irate parents bombarded Deal and lawmakers with calls and letters in 2016 because the campus carry bill failed to carve out an exception for child-care facilities.

I have spent a lot of time visiting Georgia colleges in the last few months with my high school seniors. I was not in fear of my life at Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia or Georgia College, as lawmakers apparently must be based on their insistence students ought to be armed.

Here is a piece from a professor on the General Assembly’s fixation with guns on college campuses. Carlos Moreno is an associate professor at Emory University’s School of Medicine. He works with college students daily and is also the father of a Tech student.

By Carlos Moreno

Once again the Georgia Legislature is considering a campus carry’ bill, House Bill 280, which will needlessly endanger students, faculty, and staff on the campuses of Georgia’s universities and colleges.

I am a professor at Emory University, and I have seen many students in need of mental health counseling.  I have personally known students about whom I was seriously concerned as to whether they might do harm to themselves or to others. The last thing we need to do is make it easier for these students to carry lethal weapons on campus.

While Emory may not be directly affected by the proposed legislation, my son is an undergraduate at Georgia Tech, and he would be directly affected.  It is plainly evident that mental health concerns are all too common for today’s college students.  The mixture of stress, hormones, alcohol, and firearms that this bill would enable is a recipe for tragedy.

Several of the deadliest mass shootings in the United State. have taken place in the past few years on college campuses and been perpetrated by students.  At Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, in 2007, 32 were killed and 17 were injured, second only to the Orlando massacre in mass shooting fatalities.  At UC Santa Barbara in 2014, a student killed six and wounded seven.

Moreover, Georgia voters are overwhelmingly against this bill.  A 2014 AJC poll found that only 20 percent of Georgians support campus carry, and 71 percent of Republican voters oppose this legislation. Additionally, this bill is an unfunded mandate, because it excludes firearms from sporting events, dorms, and fraternities, but does not provide any funding for universities to provide safe storage of firearms.

Proponents claim that this bill would help protect law-abiding citizens on college campuses.  This is a complete fallacy. If students have nowhere to store guns, they will keep them in their vehicles, and this will be the quickest way for stolen guns to end up in the hands of criminals.

The AJC reported an alarming rise in the number of guns stolen from vehicles, with the number running over 800 a few months ago.  Thus, this law will not make Georgians safer.  It will make them less safe.

In his veto statement last year, Gov. Deal said, From the early days of our nation and state, colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed. To depart from such time-honored protections should require overwhelming justification…If the intent of [campus carry] is to increase safety of students on college campuses, it is highly questionable that such would be the result.”

It is time for the Georgia Legislature to stand up to the narrow special interests of the extreme gun lobby and reject this campus carry bill. And if it does not do so, Gov. Deal must again veto this misguided legislation for the sake of the public safety of our college campuses.

Reader Comments 0

13 comments
BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

With the Emerrhoid snowflakes being traumatized by the word TRUMP written in chalk on a sidewalk, they might feel safer with a few concealed weapons on campus to protect them from other mean people with chalk.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

It's been several months since Maureen went off on one of her anti-gun diatribes.  Must be in their contract, anybody who works at the AJC must publish an anti-gun piece every six months or so.

Eventually, this bill will get passed and guess what?  Nothing will happen.  North Campus is not going to turn into Dodge City.  Nobody is going to open fire in the Bookstore, which, is one of the places that everybody robbed at.  Have you seen their prices?

Carlos_Castillo
Carlos_Castillo

What could be better than having students carry weapons on GA campuses?   Don't they already have better driving stats than older drivers?  And get arrested for drunkenness less often?


Just ask the insurance companies about why the drinking age was raised from age 18 to age 21.  


I'm also curious about the cost of liability insurance to GA colleges and universities when these schools become legally responsible for keeping all these guns out of prohibited areas and drunken hands on campus.



independentiii
independentiii

The current 'interpretation' of the second amendment is so far beyond the original intent it is absurd. The NRA membership is less than 5% of the population.  It is past time for the vast majority of citizens to 'rise up' and rein this in, and not let a small minority of gun fanatics dictate this stupidity to the rest of us.

#Constitutionalist
#Constitutionalist

The mixture of stress, hormones, alcohol, and firearms isn't unique. It describes any military community, many of which are found in Georgia.

BobDoty
BobDoty

@Ralph-43  Know the DATA. Your data speaks about "gun owners", but not a single word about CCW License Holders, which is what this Bill is actually about.

Either you don't know the difference, in which case you are ignorantly commenting, or you do know and don't want to admit it.

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

@BobDoty @Ralph-43 Easy Bobby.  Evaluation of gun crimes can only be accomplished using the data from registered gun owners.  The guns stolen, purchased illegally, given as gifts, etc. are not public information.  Careful with your gun - sometimes they go off accidentally.

William Tyler Ast
William Tyler Ast

this is under the silly assumption that mentally ill abide by law. you said yourself, in all your shooting references - mentally ill students brought firearms on campus, despite the law, and killed people all the same (also against the law).


i get that this is an opinion piece, and im not necessarily for conceal carry at schools - im undecided. this article made poor arguments on the matter, though. 

i do agree about safe storage, that is difficult - but that problem ascends just college, all carriers must have in mind proper gun storage at all times. college aged kids that carry have to leave their firearms in their vehicles anyways, as carrying on campus is illegal - but leaving a firearm in a vehicle is not, regardless if the parking lot is school grounds. 


if we're talking in theoretical/hypothetical: even if we have one theoretical mentally unstable carrying, at least there will also be one theoretical mentally stable ready to take action as oppose to hopelessly running and hiding. youre a professor, so you think you know the interworkings of college. im 24. i am part of the interworkings. 


there are a few cases of shootings being stopped by other responsible concealed carriers. all of the massively fatal shootings that have happened, have gone by unchallenged. besides all of the data and statistics of the trickle effect of carrying, its hard to ignore those cases. it's harder still to imagine myself being defenseless in a situation against an active shooter. and yet even harder to imagine someone i love being in that situation, and me not being able to help them.

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

Know the DATA.Gun owners are statistically, significantly more likely to commit murder, twice as likely to be murdered and 3 times as likely to commit suicide (Univ Penn LDI Issue Brief 2003;8(8), 1-4; Ann Int Med, Jan, 2014).Those who are shot and survive are 21 times more likely to be shot again and 5 times more likely to die than those wounded by some weapon other than a gun or injured in an accident (Ann Int Med, April, 2015).States with high gun ownership (Montana, Arkansas, Alabama and Idaho) kill law enforcement officers 3 times more often than states with low gun ownership (Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey) (American Journal of Public Health, 2015).

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Professor Moreno, above: "I am a professor at Emory University, and I have seen many students in need of mental health counseling.  I have personally known students about whom I was seriously concerned as to whether they might do harm to themselves or to others. The last thing we need to do is make it easier for these students to carry lethal weapons on campus."

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Legislators in Georgia, please do the right thing and dismiss this bill.  It contains potential heartbreak for many people, and it is unnecessary. Please allow your  common sense to prevail, and let the Holy Spirit lead you in the direction you know is spiritually sound.

Erbonn
Erbonn

@MaryElizabethSings

Commons sense would tell you that the lawless, the criminals and insane will not follow the law and will bring their guns anyway.  This laws discriminates against the law abiding student/citizen that simply wants to protect themselves and others if the need arises.   

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

What makes you think the Holy Spirit and common sense aren't leading them already in the direction you don't prefer?