Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a ‘campus carry’ bill Tuesday, arguing against proponents of the legislation who said allowing law-abiding students with valid concealed carry permits would make colleges and universities 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 said in a statement.
“From the early days of our nation and state, colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed,” he continued. “To depart from such time honored protections should require overwhelming justification. I do not find that such justification exists.”
Under HB 859, public college and university students, 21 and over, with valid handgun permits would be allowed to carry anywhere on campus except for dormitories, fraternities and sorority houses and athletic events.
In an attempt to negotiate with the General Assembly, Deal asked lawmakers to also make day care centers, university disciplinary hearings and faculty and administrative offices gun-free zones. But the General Assembly did not give in.
The National Rifle Association bashed Deal for vetoing the measure, accusing him of flip-flopping on the issue.
“We agreed with Governor Deal when he said that the arguments against the campus safety bill lacked validity. He was right then, but he is wrong today,” said NRA spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen.
“It is unfortunate that Governor Deal vetoed a bill that would have made Georgia campuses safer for his constituents,” added Mortensen. “The NRA is thankful to Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and the legislators who worked to protect law-abiding citizens’ constitutional right to self-defense on campus and we look forward to working with them next session to pass this important safety legislation.”
It’s not yet clear whether the General Assembly will attempt to override the veto. But one House Republican said the battle is not over.
“I’m disappointed, of course, in the veto,” said state Rep. Rick Jasperse, the sponsor of HB 859, in an interview with CNN. “I thought we had made a very good case to the legislature and the public.”
On the ultimate fate of the bill, Jasperse added, “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from swinging the bat.”
While critics of campus carry argue that it makes colleges and universities infinitely more dangerous, reality doesn’t seem to match that assessment. To some degree, campus carry laws already exist in Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Kansas, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Utah. The result? Pretty much the same as it was before the law was passed. Students are still safe, and there haven’t been a spate of accidental shootings or wild, wild west shootouts as some critics may have prognosticated.
The one thing that is different, however, is that those students who want to exercise their 2A rights can do so — and who knows, maybe that will come in handy one day not just for the lawfully armed student but for his peers and professors who may find themselves in situation where they are immensely glad to be in the company of a student who believes that it is better to have and not need than to need and not have.