Georgia Governor Decides on the Campus Carry Bill

After weeks of speculation, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has reached a decision on House Bill 859, the campus carry bill that we have reported on in previous newsletters. Gov. Deal has chosen to veto the bill, so the proposed legislation will not become law.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal

The measure would have allowed anyone 21 and over with a weapons license to carry firearms anywhere on public college or university campuses except dorm rooms, fraternity and sorority houses and sporting events.

After the campus carry bill won easy victory in the General Assembly, Deal asked the Legislature to make 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, which left the Governor to make, in his words, a tough decision.  In an interview before his decision was made, Gov. Deal said he had wished that the legislature had not sent him the proposed bill without having made the changes he requested. “But they did,” he said, “and I have to come, once again, to doing what I think is in the best interest of all the citizens of the state.”

In a statement about the veto issued by the Governor, he said:

“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. However, I understand the concerns of the authors of this legislation and the parents and students who want it to become law. They apparently believe that the colleges are not providing adequate security on their campuses and that civilian police are not doing so on the sidewalks, streets and parking lots students use as they go to and come from classes.”

“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. I do not find that such justification exists. Therefore, I VETO HB 859.”

With this decision, the new legislation will not become law and Georgia will not become the ninth state to allow “campus carry,” while another two dozen states allow individual campuses to decide their firearms policy. Since the legislative session has ended for the year, it will go back to the chamber that originated it during the next year’s session to see if they wish to override the veto. A vetoed bill requires two-thirds vote of the House/Senate in order to override, according to the “veto power” outlined in the Georgia State Constitution, Article V, Section II, Paragraph IV.

Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton), a co-sponsor of the bill, said the issue is not going away.

Do you agree with the Governor’s decision?