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Letter: UNG students, please leave your guns at home
Georgia's House Bill 280, also called the campus carry bill, is set to take effect at state colleges and universities and colleges in Georgia on Saturday.

To University of North Georgia students, faculty, staff, parents, and visitors with a concealed weapons permit: Please don’t bring your guns to campus. You have this right now. Don’t exercise it.

Heres why you shouldn’t. There is simply no need. Yes, crimes happen, but so very rarely. We have a well-trained police force, an observant and brave community and a well-lit and public campus. I won’t haggle over Gov. Nathan Deal’s misguided reasons for legalizing campus carry: some students walk through dangerous territory to get to class. Whatever the reality at other schools, this just isn't true at UNG at any of its five campuses.

Second, others have not needed guns. In states that have allowed guns on campus, not one crime has been stopped with a gun at a major university in those states, based on my research published on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution education blog Get Schooled. This is true for the University of Utah, Utah State, the University of Texas, Texas A&M University, University of Idaho, Idaho State University, Boise State University, the University of Mississippi and Oregon State University.

In Georgia, after campus stun guns and Tasers were legalized in 2016, not one crime was stopped at several schools using them from July 2016 to February 2017, according to my research also on the AJC site. My guess is that pattern has continued.

Third, guns change education for the worse. According to a study done at a Texas university, professors changed aspects of how they teach and interact with students outside of class in response to campus carry which started there in 2016. You can prevent that happening at nationally ranked UNG.

Fourth, you can do the job the Georgia legislature refused: Keep guns away from high school students in all areas of campus. The law will not allow guns in classes that high school students are taking, but will allow guns near them in bathrooms, hallways and student common areas. 

Fifth, you will heed the voices of more than 14,000 Georgians who contacted the governor urging his veto, the overwhelming majority of faculty, students and staff, every campus police chief, every university president and the Board of Regents. They don’t want you to bring guns to campus. The UNG alma mater speaks of fires of loyalty abounding. Be loyal to those voices.

Sixth, you will heed one of the many traditions we celebrate in Georgia. As Gov. Deal reminded us in 2016, from the early days of our nation and state, colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed. We honor freedom, fights against injustice, and a strong gun culture here in Georgia. We can honor education without dishonoring them.

Seventh, and finally, it is my personal plea. From a professor who teaches you. From a teacher who guides your child. From a husband, a brother, a son, an uncle and resident of Gainesville. I beg you to leave your guns at home.

Matthew Boedy

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