Several gun safety advocacy groups expressed concerns that campus carry would increase gun violence instead of prevent it.
House Bill 859 would allow anyone with a weapons license to carry a gun in most areas of public college or university campuses in the state.
“We have pushed against the insane gun legislation that we see spreading like an evil tide across the state,” said state Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta, who described campus carry as an “abomination.”
State Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, a supporter of Jasperse’s bill, said the legislation would ban guns from athletic events, dorms and fraternity and sorority houses. The representative said campus carry would enable students to “defend themselves in the case of certain events,” such as the armed robberies Georgia State University has suffered in recent weeks.
Orrock said HB 859 would require a “fiscal note of God knows how much money,” which would increase tuition costs across the state. The senator said the state’s colleges and universities “are struggling to balance their budgets” without the extra costs campus carry would generate.
The GunSense Georgia Coalition released a statement that said Jasperse’s bill makes “no appropriations” about how to fund expenses for “additional staffing, training, equipment or insurance” in relation to campus carry. The coalition said the bill is “an unfunded mandate.”
Kathryn Grant, Southeast Regional Director of The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, said the bill “will put the safety and well-being of our campus communities at risk.” Grant said that “outsourcing campus security to students or faculty” is an “illogical policy” which endangers them.
Georgia State student Sean Wallace said he has always felt safe in the downtown Atlanta university, despite it being an open campus. He expressed his concerns of how that would change if campus carry were to pass.
“House Bill 859 threatens to strip me of that feeling of safety and security,” said Wallace. “No student should have to worry about whether the student next to him is carrying a gun or not.”
Grant said The Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus hopes to “engage House membership” in their efforts. If the bill passes the House, the organization will seek support from state senators.
State House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, supports HB 859, which improves its chances of passing the House.