Surprise! Georgia Governor Signs Campus Carry Bill

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has signed a controversial “campus carry” bill, satisfied that it resolves the reasons he vetoed a similar measure last year.

Deal, a term-limited Republican who plans to retire, signed House Bill 280 on Thursday, May 4. His signature drew praise from Second Amendment supporters seeking to enhance security for students, faculty, and staff on and around college campuses.

Gun control advocates, meanwhile, had hoped Deal would veto HB 280, as he did last year with HB 859.

That bill, the governor said, did not sufficiently exclude carry rights in places that can become scenes of high human emotions, such as campus housing, daycare centers, and athletic sporting venues. (See analysis below from Attorney Matt Kilgo for the U.S. Law Shield of Georgia Independent Program.)

HB 280, however, makes restrictions to those places and several others. The bill, Deal added, improves students’ chances to defend themselves while moving to and from campus.

“Unfortunately, in parts of the state, the path to higher education travels through dangerous territory,” Deal said in a statement.

“At the present time,” he added, “assailants can, and do, target these students knowing full well that their victims are not permitted to carry protection, even those who are weapons carry license holders, because they are either going to or coming from a campus where no weapons are allowed.

“In recent years, we’ve witnessed college students fall victim to violent attacks in or while traveling to libraries and academic buildings, and while traveling to and from their homes to class.

“As this legislation is more narrowly tailored as to exclude areas on a college campus, I’ve signed HB 280.”

But this bill didn’t reach Deal’s desk without a lot of hard work.

In March, both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly closed out this year’s legislative session, wrangling over compromises.

The House tally was 96-70, while the Senate vote was 33-21 on its version of the bill.

Lindsey Donovan, of the anti-gun violence group Moms Demand Action, told The Associated Press that Deal’s signing of HB 280 “will be the legacy he leaves behind.”

But Deal concluded that the bill enhances security, and still bans defensive hardware from the most delicate places at a college or university.

“It is altogether appropriate that weapons not be allowed in sensitive areas on college campuses,” he said, “and I appreciate the thoughtful consideration given by the General Assembly in expanding these excluded areas within a college campus in this year’s bill.”

Our Take

U.S. Law Shield of Georgia Independent Program Attorney Matt Kilgo discussed some of the basics of the bill. He said HB 280 prohibits the carrying of a concealed weapon by anyone, including weapons-carry-license holders, in the following areas of a college campus:

  • —Buildings or property used for athletic sporting events;
  • —Student housing, including but not limited to dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses;
  • —Any preschool or childcare space;
  • —Any room or space used for classes related to a college and career academy or other specialized school;
  • —Any room or space used for classes in which high school students participate in a dual enrollment program, including, but not limited to, courses related to the “Move on When Ready Act”;
  • —Any faculty, staff, or administrative offices; and,
  • —Rooms for conducting disciplinary proceedings.

Kilgo said he would be discussing the changes in law and how they affect U.S. Law Shield Members in future Georgia Gun Law Seminars. Click here to find locations near you.  — Bill Miller, Contributor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield blog

Click here to see Governor Deal’s signing statement.