Georgians will have to hope for better luck next year if they wish to carry guns on campus. Republican Governor Nathan Deal vetoed House Bill 859 on Tuesday, which would have allowed permit holders 21 years old and over to carry guns on campus. The bill contained exceptions for residence halls, Greek houses, and sporting events.
In his statement, Deal noted that some “contend that this legislation is justified under the provisions of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution” and the Georgia Constitution. “It would be incorrect to conclude, however, that certain restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms are unconstitutional,” he wrote.
“To depart from such time honored protections [of gun free campuses] should require overwhelming justification. I do not find that such justification exists,” concluded Deal.
Deal did acknowledge safety concerns from supporters of the bill by issuing an executive order requesting reports on the safety measures of each college.
The governor had asked for more exceptions, including on-campus day care centers, disciplinary hearings, and faculty and administrative offices.
“Governor Deal had told state legislatures what he wanted in this bill… He didn’t get what he wanted, and this is the end result,” local affiliate 11 Alive noted.
Supporters were surprised and disappointed, CNN reported. State Rep. Rick Jasperse, the primary sponsor, said he received no notice.
“I’m disappointed, of course, in the veto. I thought we had made a very good case to the legislature and the public,” he said. The bill had been “sound and reasonable,” Georgia House Speaker David Ralston said.
A poll from The Red and Black, the independent student paper of the University of Georgia, found 62 percent of the student body opposed the bill. A rally of almost 100 opponents was recently held on campus.
“The bill faced vocal opposition from Hank Huckaby, the University System of Georgia chancellor, [and] University of Georgia president Jere Morehead,” according to The Red and Black.
State Rep. Regina Quick who spoke to the University of Georgia College Republicans noted that most opposition came from professors, not students.
Jasperse does not think this will be the end for campus carry proposals.
“Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from swinging the bat,” he said.