Gov. Nathan Deal recently signed House Bill 280, better known as the “Campus Carry Bill,” into law. This bill makes it legal for licensed gun owners over the age of 21 to carry concealed weapons on public campuses in Georgia.
A similar bill was passed last year, but was vetoed by Gov. Deal. In a public statement last year, Deal said, “From the early days of our nation and state, colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed. To depart from such time-honored protections should require overwhelming justification. We do not find that such justification exists.” We agree with this past sentiment, and believe the negatives of allowing guns on campuses outweigh the positives.
What is most astounding about the bill is the notion that carrying a gun on a college campus is a good idea. A college campus is full of 18-22 year old kids, looking to get an education and enjoy their time at school before they have to step into the bleak real world. They are not criminals, and, most normal circumstances, do not pose a threat to your life. Feeling the need to carry a concealed handgun to protect yourself is not sensible; it is a conflict waiting to happen.
The only provision in this bill that we agree with are the exceptions, which outline where people cannot carry guns. According to section 20(A) of the bill, there are seven provisions that outline places where the concealed weapons are not allowed to be carried, including places where the college shares space with high school and pre-K students and at public sporting events. Although these provisions are sensible, they do not take away from the overall ludicrousness and needlessness of the bill. With all of these restrictions, what is the purpose of having the bill in the first place?
If the purpose of the bill is safety, as many supporters say, then we must call into question the trustworthiness of college students and their ability to handle the responsibility that comes with the ratification of this bill. Allowing a 21-year old student to carry a concealed weapon around campus seems inherently contradictory to the very purpose of the bill. While college students do not inherently have bad intentions, their mistakes often can have disastrous consequences. As shown by the senseless death of Timothy Piazza at the Penn State fraternity, where his fraternity brothers neglected calling 911 until 12 hours after suffering multiple brain injuries, college students are hardly cautious.
Instead of keeping the students on campus safe, the bill would put at risk the lives of everyone on the campus. We agree that safety on college campuses is a necessary commodity, we just do not believe that arming the students and teachers is the way to achieve that.
According to Everytown, a gun safety research center, the unintentional shooting of a child occurs every 34 hours, and according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the national average of teenagers killed by firearms per year is 2,647. By October of last year, there had been 14 mass shootings in Georgia. Adding a law that would allow the concealed carrying of guns in some of the only places that guns have never been allowed does not seem like the way to lower those statistics. Keep schools gun-free, and keep students safe.