Campus gun bill passes House subcommittee

The latest variation of the campus gun bill passed its first hurdle on Thursday as a House subcommittee agreed to move it forward.

House Bill 280 next goes to the full Public Safety Committee. It allows anyone with a Georgia concealed weapons permit to carry firearms onto most parts of public college and university campuses, but not into dormitories or fraternity and sorority houses.

For the second day in a row the subcommittee met with limited notice. On Wednesday the panel heard testimony on a handful of bills as their sponsors scrambled to prepare testimony with an hour or less of advance warning.

Supporters and opponents had several hours notice Thursday and packed a tiny conference room in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building.

Rep. Mandi Ballinger, R-Canton, HB's 280 sponsor, said this year's version would prohibit gun owners from carrying weapons into an on-campus child care center. That was one of Gov. Nathan Deal's concerns about the 2016 bill, which he vetoed.

But Andrea Teichner, a volunteer with the Georgia chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said Ballinger’s child-care exemption is “so narrow.”

It only applies, Teichner said, to one child care center per campus and has multiple requirements for security and access.

“I would submit this hasn’t changed at all,” Teichner said. “This is a dangerous proposal.”