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Law in effect allowing electroshock self-defense on public college campuses

POSTED: July 11, 2016 10:49 p.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Foxhole Guns and Archery owner Jon Lipscomb show clerk Chelsea Southerland how to operate a stun gun the store sells.

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Foxhole Guns and Archery owner Jon Lipscomb said he’s seen a slight uptick in stun gun sales since a recent Georgia law change, but the number is not too shocking.

“A lot of dads coming in purchasing these for their daughters,” he said.

Lipscomb said he’s been selling about 10 stun guns more since last month in the lead-up to House Bill 792 becoming law July 1, which allows for the carry of electroshock weapons for the purposes of self-defense on public college campuses.

“Any person who is 18 years of age or older or currently enrolled in classes on the campus in question and carrying, possessing, or having under such person’s control an electroshock weapon while in or on any building or real property owned by or leased to such public technical school, vocational school, college or university or other public institution of postsecondary education ...” the law reads.

A representative from Georgia Gun Store said the business has not seen an uptick since the bill was introduced.

University of North Georgia professor Matthew Boedy said the law has been considered as “campus carry lite,” but he doesn’t accept it as a compromise. Boedy previously spoke at the Capitol during a rally in March for Gov. Nathan Deal to veto the “campus carry” bill.

“I don’t think we should be in the business of giving violent weapons to students or faculty for that reason,” Boedy said.

Deal vetoed the campus carry bill, which would have allowed anyone over the age of 21 to carry a concealed handgun on campus with the proper permit, in May.

“From the early days of our nation and state, colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed,” Deal said in a May statement. “To depart from such time-honored protections should require overwhelming justification. I do not find that such justification exists.”

A Taser, often employed by law enforcement, fires projectiles at the person that deliver the electric current, Lipscomb said.

“The ones that I’ve seen to be selling are in the $30 range, $40 range, which you actually have to have contact with the device to the individual,” Lipscomb said.

Boedy said he would likely have to “address it on a syllabus on the first day of class.”

“I think I would just note it that it has passed and to tell students that the bill has passed, and that there could be a stun gun in their classroom or on their campus,” Boedy said.

UNG communications director Sylvia Carson said the campus’ public safety department would investigate “any report of an incident involving a Taser device.”

“But because the law allows for them to be carried, just the use of them would not be a crime,” Carson said.

Boedy said one of his classes has a theme on higher education and that the class spent a good amount of time focusing on campus carry last semester. The issue of electroshock weapons on campus may be coming to his class, he said.



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