Governor Nathan Deal waited until the last minute, the state’s May 3 deadline, to act on legislation involving the so-called “campus carry” gun bill. That bill, House Bill 859, would have allowed anyone who was at least 21 years old with a state-issued concealed weapons permit to carry a firearm on Georgia’s public college and university campuses. The only exceptions were for on-campus dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses, and at athletic events.
Deal, in his veto message, doubted that the bill would make colleges safer.
“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 a letter explaining his decision. He coupled it with an executive order instructing the higher education system to submit a report on campus security measures by August.
The decision again inflamed conservatives and was met with resolutions at Republican district conventions across the state calling on Deal to reverse course.
Chad Matthews, 44, a construction foreman in Forsyth County, is among those angry with Deal’s decision.
“The bad guys are already toting guns on campus,” he said, adding facetiously that “obviously now that he’s vetoed it I’m sure the bad guys will put down their guns.”
“As long as the bad guys have guns, I know damn well the good guys should have guns,” Matthews said.
Georgia voters overall, however, backed the decision to veto the bill. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution poll, 56 percent of respondents supported Deal’s campus gun veto — including 78 percent of Democrats.
Among Republicans, however, that support fell to 37 percent.
Michelle Finn, 43, a Republican homemaker in Smyrna, opposed his decision to kill the campus gun. “I think you should be able to carry guns on campus. This is still America,” she said.
Fifty-nine percent of Republicans, but just 37 percent of voters polled overall, want lawmakers to pass it again next year.