The idea of carrying concealed handguns on campus was the topic of one conversation at the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus student center Wednesday.
However, three students at another table had not heard about a bill that would allow concealed handguns.
The Georgia House of Representatives Monday passed the “Campus Safety Act,” House Bill 859, sponsored by Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, and co-sponsored by Rep. Mandi Ballinger, R-Canton.
Responsible people are the ones who will carry guns on campus, Conner Berry, a business administration major at the University of North Georgia, said Wednesday.
“I’ve been around guns all my life,” said Berry, who is from Auburn. He said he “totally” agrees with the bill, which now goes to the Senate.
Two other students argued against Berry’s position.
Abdul Rahman said responsible people make mistakes, too, and the bill should not become law.
Sturridge Mahathirath, a math major from Athens, said, “Not everybody makes rational decisions.” He also favored keeping the law as it is — which forbids weapons on college campuses.
Barry Federer had not heard about the House vote, but he called it a “good thing.”
He said having people on campus with guns could help if a violent situation develops. He said campus police probably would not be present “immediately.”
Brothers Thomas and Samuel Vang said guns should be limited — and should include more regulation and education.
Thomas, a computer science major, said more problems come from gun availability than solutions. He said much of society’s violence is caused when people use guns.
Samuel, a pre-pharmacy major, said the availability of guns “doesn’t solve anything.” He said education programs would help.
The University of North Georgia supports “the current law” banning guns on campus, Kate Maine, associate vice president of university relations, said by email.
Maine added the bill is a “system-wide issue” for the University of Georgia system.
The bill would not apply to buildings or property used for athletic events or student housing including sorority and fraternity houses.
“House Bill 859 is simply providing responsible Georgians, who have gone through the licensure process to obtain a weapons carry permit, the ability to carry their weapon in certain places on their college campuses,” said Rep. Jasperse.
“This is a constitutional right and a very important safety measure for all of our citizens. By enacting this legislation, I believe, like statistics have shown, that we will see a reduction in the number of violent crimes on our campuses. The right to bear arms is one of our most important and sacred rights as U.S. citizens, and those rights shouldn’t end when a student steps onto a college campus.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.