UNG campus carry info meetings
When: 10 a.m. June 29, 10 a.m. Aug. 15
Where: Continuing Education Auditorium
When: 10 a.m. June 28, 10 a.m. Aug. 14
Where: Hoag Student Center Auditorium
With Georgia’s campus carry law set to take effect July 1, officials at the University of North Georgia and Lanier Technical College are working to inform students, faculty, staff and school visitors about the new law.
House Bill 280 makes it legal for those with a Georgia weapons carry license to have a concealed weapon 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. A person must be 21 years old to apply for the license.
Campus police at both schools said they don’t believe the new law will lead to a lot of changes for their officers.
“I don’t think it will affect my job at all simply because our job right now is to enforce the law anyway, albeit the law has changed,” said UNG Police Chief Justin Gaines. “The law has changed, but we will enforce the law, so it really doesn’t change a lot for us.”
The university has set up a webpage (https://ung.edu/police/campus-carry) to answer questions about the law. A list of frequently asked questions and answers are on the page dealing with general information about the law, enforcement information, information for faculty and staff, as well as information for students who are dually enrolled in classes that give both high school and college credit. The law prohibits guns from being brought into classrooms where high school students are present, and dual enrollment students are considered both high school and college students.
In addition, nine town hall meetings have been scheduled to give members of the university family the opportunity to ask questions about the law. At least one meeting has been scheduled at each of the five UNG campuses. Two of those meetings are scheduled at the Gainesville campus — June 29 and Aug. 15 — both at 10 a.m. in the Continuing Education Auditorium. Another pair are scheduled at the Dahlonega campus for June 28 and Aug. 14 — each at 10 a.m. in the Hoag Student Center Auditorium. A list of town halls on the other campus sites is available on the webpage.
Gaines said the new law is not complicated since it puts the burden of finding out whether a gun can be brought to a specific area of campus completely on the person who holds the weapons carry license.
“It’s pretty clear-cut,” he said. “The state has made it very clear that it is the carry holder’s responsibility to comply with the law. It is their responsibility just like if I’m driving a car, it’s my responsibility that I follow the laws of the state of Georgia while I’m driving my car.”
Gaines said his officers are receiving training on the new law.
“We are doing in-service training for all of our officers to understand the law,” he said. “Just as we educate the public, we educate our officers too.”
Chief Jeff Strickland of the Lanier Tech Police Department said in an email last week he didn’t see the law causing any significant changes for his officers.
“We don’t anticipate the new law causing our job to change,” Strickland said. “We will be training our officers on the new law, and we will handle it just as we do with other laws.”
Mark D’Alessio, a spokesman for the Technical College System of Georgia, said Strickland is scheduled to speak to students about the new law during student orientation when the new school year begins. He added that Linda Osborne-Smith, the system’s lead counsel, was on the Lanier Tech campus recently presenting information about the law to Lanier Tech staff.
“We send out guidance to the colleges and leave it up to the colleges to decide how they want to present the information to the various stakeholders at the schools,” D’Alessio said.
The Georgia concealed carry permit requires a criminal history record check and background check “preventing those with serious criminal and/or mental health histories from obtaining the licenses,” according to a statement released by the governor’s office.