Guns still not allowed on Georgia universities


Nathan Deal

Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal. Image obtained from slate.com

On Tuesday, May 3, Georgia’s Republican Governor Nathan Deal vetoed a bill which would have allowed concealed handguns on university campuses for anyone 21 years old and over with a weapons license. More specifically, guns would have been allowed anywhere on campus, except for inside dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses and at athletic events. Said bill had been already approved by the Republican Party, with a majority of 113 votes in the Georgia House and 37 in the Senate.

The Second Amendment of the US Constitution states that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This amendment has generated lots of debates on whether it protects a right of individuals to keep and bear arms or a right that only militia organizations can exercise. This has led 9 states to allow guns in all their universities, 23 states to leave the decision to allow or ban weapons up to the individual colleges, and 19 states (still including Georgia) to ban weapons on campuses. In the case of Deal, his main reasons for not allowing guns in Georgia colleges are that “From the early days of our nation and state, colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed.” and “To depart from such time honored protections should require overwhelming justification. I do not find that such justification exists.”

Some groups which support gun ownership, like the National Rifle Association or Georgiacarry.org have expressed their disappointment on Deal’s decision, stating that the approval of the bill would have improved safety in campuses, and that it would have served as a deterrent for gun violence, with the mantra that “the only thing that stops a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun.” Georgiacarry.org have been trying to increase the liberties of those who have a gun license for almost ten years. For instance, in 2008, they tried to expand the places where guns could be carried, including restaurants that serve alcohol, public transit and parks.

As for Georgia’s university community, Lindsey Donovan, leader of the Georgia cahpter of the anti-gun violence group Moms Demand Action, stated that she was grateful Deal “listened to Georgia students, faculty and parents.” This can be seen on statistics: the vast majority of  Georgia college presidents and faculty (over 90% each) declare to oppose concealed weapons on campus. However, this majority is less overwhelming among the students, with 79% opposing guns. Moreover, nine in ten police chiefs believe that the most effective way to deal with guns in campus is “to prevent the use of guns at all.”

The debate on whether guns should or should not be allowed seems far from taking to an end, though, as Deal is to be Governor for other two years. Despite of this fact, however, Gerogia House Speaker David Ralston does not hold back to state that “This fight will go on. The exact form it takes, it’s early to say right now.”

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