A faculty group in the University of Georgia’s largest academic college has formally asked Gov. Nathan Deal to veto the so-called “campus carry” bill that would allow people with concealed-carry permits to bring guns onto UGA and other college campuses.
The Faculty Senate of UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences unanimously approved a statement opposing the bill in a Tuesday meeting.
The bill includes some exemptions, prohibiting weapons in student housing including fraternity and sorority houses, at athletic venues, in places where disciplinary hearings are held, in on-campus child care facilities, in faculty and administrative office space, and in areas where high-school students attend classes.
The exemptions are the result of Gov. Nathan Deal’s guidance to lawmakers in terms of what he would accept in the bill.
Deal vetoed a similar bill last year, and as of Thursday, Deal had not signed this year’s bill into law.
The Faculty Senate statement quoted Deal’s words when the governor vetoed last year’s campus carry bill. At that time, Deal wrote: “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.”
The Franklin College Faculty Senate also opposed the bill last year.
“We continue to believe that a robust and open academic environment requires that all feel safe and free from intimidation and/or potential violence,” the latest Faculty Senate statement reads, in part. “If this legislation is enacted, and students and faculty are hesitant to discuss sensitive or controversial topics because of the presence of guns on campus and in our classrooms, the academic integrity of UGA will be greatly compromised.”
Sen. Frank Ginn, R-Danielsville, was the only member of the Athens delegation to the Georgia General Assembly to support the legislation this year. The three other Republicans in the delegation, Reps. Regina Quick, R-Athens, Chuck Williams, R-Watkinsville and Sen. Bill Cowsert, voted against the bill.
Cowsert said his vote was based on feedback from constituents. Williams said he believed the exemptions in the bill would create confusion as to which areas of campus were restricted in terms of carrying a weapon. Quick said the bill represented an unreasonable restriction on Second Amendment rights.
Rep. Spencer Frye, D-Athens, the lone Democrat in the local legislative delegation, has consistently opposed “campus carry” legislation, and said he didn’t like the fact that the bill did not allow universities to opt out of allowing guns on campus.