To read more about the University of North Georgia’s efforts to educate the community about campus carry, visit https://ung.edu/police/campus-carry.php.
UNG campus carry town hall meetings
10 a.m. Aug. 14, Hoag Student Center Auditorium, Dahlonega campus
10 a.m. Aug. 15, Continuing Education Auditorium, Gainesville campus
Nearly three weeks since it became legal for those holding concealed weapons permits to carry a handgun in some areas of college and university campuses, officials at the University of North Georgia and Lanier Technical College said they have had no significant issues reported.
UNG Police Chief Justin Gaines said one incident was reported in which a gun “became unconcealed while the person was carrying it.” He said the person who saw the weapon “didn’t know how to address that particular situation.” Campus police helped the person understand how to respond in the future.
Lanier Tech Police Chief Jeff Strickland said no violations of the law have been reported to his office.
“We had not had any issues that have come up at this point,” Strickland said. “As I have walked around campus, I have not seen anybody that appeared to have a firearm on them.”
House Bill 280, commonly referred to as the campus carry law, became law July 1. The bill makes it legal for those with a Georgia weapons carry license to have a concealed handgun in some campus areas previously prohibited. But the law continues to make it illegal to carry a concealed weapon in many areas, including: sites of athletic events; student housing; any preschool or child care space; any space used for classes related to a college and career academy or other specialized school; any space used for classes where high school students are enrolled; faculty, staff or administration offices and any rooms where disciplinary proceedings are conducted.
Gaines said educating faculty, staff and students about the law has been the focus of his department’s work with the law.
“We have had walk-throughs in different areas, libraries and other areas,” Gaines said. “Employees will ask the question, ‘Is this considered an office or is it a common area? What does that look like?’ That’s all that we have really done. There’s still opinions about whether it should be legal, but I can’t really address that.”
Gaines’ office has posted information on its website (https://ung.edu/police/campus-carry.php) and conducted town halls at each of the five UNG campuses since the law was passed. Four more town halls are scheduled before the fall semester begins including at 10 a.m. Aug. 14 in the Hoag Student Center Auditorium on the Dahlonega campus and 10 a.m. Aug. 15 in the Continuing Education Auditorium on the Gainesville campus.
He said the meetings have been helpful.
“I think what it’s done is help to continue the relationship between the university police and the faculty, staff and students,” Gaines said. “In any situation with which we are able to educate and walk through a time together, our relationships strengthen. I think that through the town hall meetings, our relationships have strengthened even more. They’ve always been good, I feel, but it’s helped with answering the questions and providing the feedback. I’m very glad that we’ve been able to provide that opportunity for the community.”
Gaines said most of the questions he has dealt with from university employees have been questions about specific situations.
Strickland said he trained campus police officers at Lanier Tech and the college’s full-time faculty and staff also went through training on the new law prior to July 1.
“Probably the thing we hear the most is we have to clarify the prohibition of weapons not being allowed in school offices and anywhere where a disciplinary hearing would be held,” he said. “Those are questions we have received from staff and we’ve also received those from students as well.”
Strickland added that his office plans to provide training on the new law at each of the Lanier Tech campuses during orientation next month and that other training will be offered throughout the year as needed.
Matthew Boedy, an assistant professor on UNG’s Gainesville campus, voiced concerns about the law even before it was passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Nathan Deal. He added that while he doesn’t expect the law to be repealed, he believes it should be a topic of conversation in classes.
“I still have share the same concerns I have expressed in regard to the relationship between guns and education and guns and young people,” Boedy said Wednesday. “We can talk about repealing law, we can talk about changing law, but we should also talk about discussing its impact in classes, in courses and not just say it’s implemented and be done with it. Professors and instructors are struggling with how to talk about it in the fall, how to follow policies we’ve been given, but also note that the educational environment has changed.”
Boedy said he attended one of the town halls on the Gainesville campus.
“I think the town halls have been helpful in terms of what one can’t do and what one can do with guns,” he said. “I thought it was very informative and helpful and it showed the police certainly know what they’re doing and how to enforce this law.”