‘Campus carry’ could be back at the Georgia Legislature

A state House committee on Tuesday may have opened the door to allowing guns on college campuses.

Members of the House Public Safety Committee amended a previously uncontroversial bill that now appears to remove the authority of local school boards and college and university officials to regulate weapons on their property.

Senate Bill 141 as originally written would have decriminalized minor offenses in schools. Its sponsor, Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, said he had not been informed the committee would broaden the bill, and he walked out of the meeting in protest.

The amended legislation also would explicitly allow a person to keep ammunition in addition to a gun in their car while parked at work or on a college campus. Right now, anyone with a permit to carry a concealed weapon can keep a gun in a locked compartment of a car on school property.

The powerful state Board of Regents has strongly opposed efforts to allow guns on campuses, including in the University System of Georgia. University System officials said they were aware of the changes and were reviewing the amended bill.

Last year, House Bill 60, known as the “Gun’s Everywhere Bill,” for the first time expanded where Georgians could legally carry firearms, including into public schools, bars, churches and government buildings.

The law, however, currently allows local school boards to control their own policies and decide which school staffers may carry guns on campus. The University System currently bans guns from campus buildings, including dormitories.

A separate House bill that would have allowed anyone with a weapons permit to take guns on all parts of public college campuses was not acted on in time to be considered for a vote this session. The bill can be carried over into next year.

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