Georgia governor sounds a positive note on 'campus carry' bill ahead of NRA meet

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Gov. Nathan Deal doesn't plan to time a bill-signing of "campus carry" legislation to the NRA's big meeting in Atlanta. But he signaled his support for changes to the measure that would legalize more firearms on college campuses.

In an interview Friday shortly before the NRA meeting kicked off, he said he wasn't ready to say whether he would sign the controversial measure. But he noted that it was "significantly different" than a similar proposal he vetoed last year after lawmakers defied his request for more exemptions to the measure.

This year, lawmakers approved a measure that agreed to Deal's demands to bar guns from on-campus child care facilities, faculty and administrative office space, and disciplinary meetings. Those changes, Deal said, pleased him greatly.

"You have to give credit to them doing that. I had made some of these suggestions last year, and they were not heeded," he said. "This year, not only did they take my suggestions, they added a few of their own, such as college and career academies that may be located on the grounds of a technical college or college or university. So they expanded even the excluded areas that I have outlined. It is a much different bill."

Conservatives last year passed a measure that would allow more guns on public college campuses, but they refused to include the exceptions to the expansion that Deal sought. Deal issued a scathing veto of the measure that invoked an opinion by the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia describing colleges as "sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed."

This year, lawmakers approved a measure that acceded to Deal's demands. It also would exempt classrooms where high school students attend college campuses, as well as dormitories, sorority and fraternity houses, and athletic events.

The measure's critics still hope a grammatical error in the bill could prevent Deal from signing it, and they are eager to remind the governor of his stinging veto and the opposition from the University System of Georgia and several Republican lawmakers who represent college campuses.

More: NRA meets in Atlanta as Georgia debates 'campus carry' measure