Students, faculty and visitors to campuses in the University of Georgia System can now legally practice concealed carry. The new law went into effect on July 1, 2017, and applies to all 28 of the state’s public institutions of higher education.
As the Valdosta Daily Times reported, “Supporters argued that law-abiding students and campus visitors, who have gone through [weapons carry license] background checks, were being denied their constitutional right to defend themselves. The measure faced opposition from the state’s university system, some faculty and students, advocacy groups and some local law enforcement, who worry having armed students will add to the chaos if a shooting does occur.”
Any applicant for a weapons carry license is carefully vetted by the probate court in the county in which the applicant resides, and safeguards are in place to guarantee a weapons carry license only to those lawfully allowed to obtain one, said Matt Kilgo, Independent Program Attorney for U.S. Law Shield of Georgia.
As the Times article noted, “Across the University of Georgia System, more than 184,000 students—or about 58 percent of all students—were old enough to apply for a license in 2015, which is the most recent year for which that information was available.”
Firearms are still not allowed in many areas on campuses, including in student housing, in faculty and staff offices, in daycare centers and sports venues. Additionally, high school students attend many courses throughout the school system and any classroom with high schoolers present is also off limits for concealed carry.
The new law is a watered-down version of the original bill, and Luke Crawford, state director for Georgia Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, “said his organization plans to push next year to nix the gun bans on faculty and staff office spaces and classrooms including high school students.”
Anti-gun groups and individual gun control proponents have vowed to fight back against any changes to these regulations.
—by Brian McCombie