Kennesaw State students speak out against campus carry

A day after Gov. Nathan Deal called for changes to “campus carry” legislation already approved by state lawmakers, faculty and students gathered at Kennesaw State University to discuss the bill and its impact.

Tuesday’s forum attracted mostly those opposed to the bill, which would allow students and others properly licensed and older than 21 to carry guns most places on college grounds. Faculty and staff questioned the need for guns outside those already carried by campus police, and students passed around petitions asking Deal to veto the legislation.

The questions from students were plentiful: Where would guns be stored (the legislation disallows them in dorms)? Would guns be allowed at controversial gatherings, such as pro-life rallies? And, who will take responsibility if the new campus carry provision results in a tragedy?

Last week KSU professor Amy Donahue was arrested protesting the bill at the state capitol. One of her students, Jonathan Dufner, attended Tuesday's forum and said he's willing to be jailed in efforts to oppose the bill.

“One of the major concerns is the harm it would do to academic freedom and free speaking in the classroom,” he said “I don’t want to see that squelched.”

Tuesday’s grassroots effort grew out of concerns students and faculty had long before the bill passed, said Robin Dorff, dean of KSU’s college of humanities and social sciences. Dorff was scheduled to meet informally later Tuesday with school leaders about the next steps for the legislation and for KSU.

“We’re not assuming that the bill will stay as it is or be signed by the governor, but it is what it is now, and we need to start thinking about alternatives and options going forward.”

State lawmakers approved the legislation last week. It would allow those 21 and older with a concealed-carry license to have a gun on public college or university campuses, but not inside dormitories, fraternities and sorority houses and at athletic events. Places such as campus child care centers, music concert venues and classrooms would be OK. Georgia would become the ninth state to allow campus carry, following Texas, whose campus carry law takes effect in August.

The governor said Monday he wants lawmakers to consider exempting on-campus child care centers from the legislation and to address his concerns about high school students who are also enrolled in college courses on campuses that allow firearms. All 29 University System and 22 technical college system schools offer dual-enrollment programs for these younger students.

Hundreds of faculty members in Texas have said they would not allow guns in their classrooms, some have resigned and others have been warned about teaching controversial topics that could increase tension in a classroom.

“People are nervous about it,” said Rosezetta Bobo, director of KSU’s alternative dispute resolution training and services. “I’ve had faculty tell me that they are going to quit if this is passed, and I think I would too if I taught … I don’t think a gun will solve anything.”

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