Nathan Deal's office deluged with calls from 'campus carry' opponents

As Gov. Nathan Deal debated whether to sign Georgia's "campus carry" gun measure, his office was deluged with a crush of phone calls opposing the measure.

The lopsided totals, revealed in an open records request filed by a citizen activist, showed Deal's staff received nearly 15,000 calls urging him to veto the measure - and less than 150 in support of it.

The majority of the calls were logged in April and May, as lawmakers worked toward a compromise that would allow college students to carry concealed weapons on campus while carving out exceptions that Deal insisted upon. That deal was struck in the final hours of the legislative session.

Deal signed the bill into law on May 4, infuriating opponents of the legislation who had praised him for vetoing similar legislation last year. That scathing veto invoked a 2008 opinion by then-Justice Antonin Scalia that described colleges as “sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed.”

But he said he was willing to reopen the debate this year as long as lawmakers acceded to his demands, and they struck a compromise that appeared to do just that. House Bill 280 is designed to bar guns from on-campus child care facilities, faculty and administrative office space, and disciplinary meetings.

Already, there are daunting questions facing college administrators trying to implement the law by July 1. Among them: Does it apply to college football tailgates?

Meanwhile, opponents of the measure were passing around that was first created by a student group at the University of Texas, which has a similar campus gun law. The ad is for a (non-existent) bullet-proof "Student Body Armor" and it's been updated to reflect Georgia's new law.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.