Campus Carry Bill Clears Georgia House

The Georgia Legislature. (Photo: WSBTV)

The Georgia Legislature. (Photo: WSBTV)

(Editor’s note: This article was a submission from freelance writer S. Farver)

Late last month, the Campus Safety Act passed through the Georgia House. As it moves to the Senate, it will undoubtedly spark more heated debate. If the bill is passed, Georgia will join nine other states in adopting a law that will allow campus carry.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said the bill’s opponents are using “hype,” when they argue that campus carry will give rise to a “wild west scenario.”  Breitbart reports that Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R) may have plans to shoot down the bill in the Senate, so it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Other states with campus carry laws include Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Kansas, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Utah. Firearms are prohibited from dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses and sporting events. To get a license, students must be over 21 and pass a background check.

Though one might think that campus carry laws would pass without a bang in the South, Texas’ colleges have faced their share of controversy for the policy. University of Texas professor Daniel Harmermesh quit his longtime teaching position out of concern that a “disgruntled student might bring a gun into the classroom.”

Harmarmesh has ironically missed the point: the Texas law passed to protect students and faculty in an active shooter situation, not to cause one. He has since moved to teach at a university in Sydney, Australia, where he feels that there is a much lower risk of being a victim of a mass killer.

Harmermesh told Time Magazine last Oct. that he cannot believe he’s “the only potential or current faculty member who is aware of and disturbed by this heightened risk.”

The University of Texas is in the heart of Texas’ most liberal city, so the perspective isn’t necessarily a shock. But Harmermesh is not a lone voice. The University of Houston created a slideshow to help professors navigate the new law. The slideshow suggested that professors drop certain topics from their curriculum, to limit student access off hours, and not meet with “that student” except in controlled circumstances.

State schools have to comply with the new law, but have the freedom to make specific areas “gun free zones.”  The law does not apply to private universities, who have the right to opt out. Of the 38 private Texas colleges surveyed by the Texas Tribute, 24 of them have said they opted out and will not allow campus carry.

Rep. Rick Jasperse, who drafted the Georgia bill, said that he wrote it because crime was on the rise on college campuses. He believes that others will realize that this was written “to give college students over 21 to not be a victim if they choose to.”

How this plays out in the Georgia Senate is yet to be seen. It makes sense that campus carry resonates with people who grew up in an area where gun-use was a part of the culture. In areas of the country where guns are immediately associated with gangs and school shootings, we can expect less support for these measures. For farmers and ranchers, firearms are necessary tools. For sportsmen, guns are an exciting and respected part of gathering together with friends to enjoy the outdoors.

Not so in cities where guns are frequently only associated with violence and there isn’t a wilderness where hunting is possible. It’s clear that guns aren’t something all Americans agree on.

What are your thoughts? Do guns on college campus make for safer classrooms?

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