Georgia House passes campus gun bill

The Georgia House on Friday voted for the second straight year to allow firearms on the state’s public college and university campuses.

The House voted 108-63 to send House Bill 280 to the Senate, which also agreed in 2016 to allow those 21 and older with a Georgia weapons permit to carry concealed weapons on to most parts of college campuses.

The bill's sponsor,  state Rep. Mandi Ballinger, R-Canton, said it "allows those Georgians who choose to do so to protect themselves should the need arise."

The vote was largely along party lines.

State Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, the chairman of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, has long championed gun rights bills. Friday, he said he believes HB 280 meets the concerns of Gov. Nathan Deal, who vetoed a similar bill a year ago.

This bill is just another bite at the apple, he said.

“We’re not doing all we’d like to do,” Powell said. “We’re doing what we can do to advance this cause.”

Powell noted that the dire effects that opponents predicted after lawmakers in 2015 passed legislation that allowed guns into many other public areas in Georgia never materialized.

Democrats,  however, said this bill puts firearms into the hands of 21-year-olds in a pressurized environment.

State Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates, said the problem of crime on campus cannot be solved by kids with guns.

“We cannot solve this problem by arming our children,” she said. “We have to arm them with awareness and good sense.”

Check out Crossover Day action 

It’s Crossover Day, the 28th day of Georgia’s 40-day legislative session, when bills must move from one chamber to the other and still have a clear path to becoming law this year. While parliamentary maneuvering can keep a bill alive past Crossover Day, making it from one side of the Capitol to the other by the end of Friday makes final passage in 2017 much more likely.

To follow the action, check out The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's bill tracker.