Currently, schools and college campuses in Georgia are Gun Free Victim Zones – areas where criminals know they are free to bring guns unopposed, and rob or kill their victims with no fear of armed opposition.
Yesterday, the Georgia House of Representatives moved one step closer to eliminating schools and colleges from the realm of Gun Free Victim Zones, by passing HB859, by a vote of 113 to 59. This bill would allow carry of concealed handguns on school campuses in the state, by those with a Georgia Weapons Carry License (GWCL).
Some notable points of this law, that seem to make the law more acceptable to a wider range of legislators, while still maintaining the central purpose of the bill:
Guns are allowed to be carried everywhere on campus except at sporting events, and in dormitories, fraternity houses, and sorority houses. To me, as a father with a son living in a dorm at Georgia State, I’m okay with that. This reduces the possibility of accidents resulting from guns being handled by unlicensed students. After a recent string of armed robberies on campus, this hits home.
Guns must be concealed. Concealment is further defined in the law, and it is worth noting that it includes requirements that the handgun is “substantially, but not necessarily completely, covered by an article of clothing.” To me this avoids the possibility of unintentionally allowing one’s gun to be seen, thus inviting charges of “brandishing.”
To me, these points in no way reduce the real effect of this bill. Criminals will have no way to know whether the person they intend to rob or attack is armed. So, they move on.
I did note, though, that handguns are the only weapons allowed under the bill. This eliminates knives with blades over 5 inches, which are also considered weapons under Georgia law, and the carry of which required a GWCL. I’m not sure why this is in there, but I am looking into it.
I applaud the Georgia Legislature on this move, and I look forward to the Senate’s passage, and the Governor’s signature.