Deal signed House Bill 280 in May, a year after vetoing similar legislation that the governor felt didn't adequately address some of his prior concerns about firearms on campus. The legislation, which became law in July, does not allow guns in dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses and on-campus areas where high school students attend class. Guns are not allowed in buildings used for athletic events, but they're permitted in tailgating areas.
The law has been long sought by conservatives and gun rights activists as a safety measure for students, faculty and administrators.
Nine states allow concealed weapons on public postsecondary campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Twenty-four other states allow concealed carry weapons on campus but give each college or university the option to permit anyone to have a firearm.
State Rep. Mandi Ballinger, the bill’s lead sponsor, said she couldn’t comment on the complaint because she has not read it yet. Ballinger, a Republican from Cherokee County, did say via email Tuesday that “history would bear out that their concerns are unfounded.”
State officials have not reported any incidents where a gun owner has fired a weapon on any campus. The law does not apply to private colleges and universities in Georgia.
The professors are using Deal’s veto statement and remarks by a key state official to support their case. The complaint includes comments by USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley to a state legislative committee earlier this year. Before the campus carry law was passed, Wrigley said the “current law strikes the right balance to create a safe environment on our campuses.”
Several organizations that were against the law released statements Tuesday praising the professors for seeking the injunction.