Georgia House passes ‘campus carry’ bill legalizing guns at colleges

By Kristina Torres

Tribune News Service

The Georgia state House voted Monday to legalize carrying concealed guns on Georgia’s college campuses.

State Rep. Rick Jasperse, a Republican, said: “It’s a real world solution to a real world problem. In today’s world, it’s a must.”

But in a 90-minute debate before the 113-59 vote, Democratic state Rep. Virgil Fludd said the bill would allow the weapons with “no instruction, no training, no supervision.”

“We’re putting (students) in volatile situations with alcohol and hormones,” Fludd said.

The bill would allow anyone 21 or older with a weapons license to carry a gun anywhere on a public college or university campus, except for inside dormitories, fraternities and sorority houses, and at athletic events. It also would mandate that those weapons be concealed — something proponents say make it safer — since Georgia requires gun owners to apply for “concealed carry” permits that require fingerprinting and background checks.

Recent events close to the Georgia Capitol, however, have added to the latest push. A few blocks from the Capitol building, robberies at Georgia State University’s downtown campus library — committed within weeks of each other, with two occurring on the same day — have increased support among some students and lawmakers for the right to carry concealed weapons on campus.

The state’s Board of Regents, which regulates the state’s 29 public colleges and universities, has long opposed “campus carry,” and it has blocked previous attempts to allow guns on campuses. The most recent attempt came in 2014 when the state House voted to legalize campus carry as part of a broader effort called the “Guns Everywhere Bill.” The state Senate, however, stripped the campus-carry language out of the bill before it was passed.

With Monday’s House passage, the campus-carry bill goes to the Senate for consideration.