guns on campus

UGA Hairy Dawg Carrying on CampusAccording to recent reports, members of the Georgia General Assembly are scrambling to respond to Governor Deal’s reservations about HB 859, the “campus carry” bill, now on his desk. The bill permits students at least 21 years old with concealed weapons permits to possess firearms anywhere on the state’s public college campuses except residence halls, fraternities, sororities, and athletic events.

It’s no wonder legislators are confused. A couple of weeks ago, Governor Deal airily dismissed arguments against the legislation as “lacking validity.” In recent days, however, he’s become persuaded that the bill has to be substantially revised in this session’s waning days. It’s dawned on him that it may not be a great idea to have armed students walking around among the three-year-olds in campus day care centers and packing heat at fraught disciplinary proceedings where students can face penalties up to and including expulsion. He also now believes that colleges and technical schools ought to have discretion to make their own rules about firearms in faculty and administrative offices.

Arguments of high principle have been advanced on both sides of this issue, proponents wrapping themselves in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and opponents raising the specter of a body blow to the free flow of ideas as faculty and students take to editing themselves for fear of provoking an armed student on a short fuse.

Those arguments are certainly worth our attention. But they go on at too high a level of abstraction to move things forward much. I think, foolishly perhaps, that it’s more productive to focus on less exalted issues of implementation, its costs and who would bear them. Doing that makes clear to me anyway how thoughtlessly this bill was cobbled together.

GeorgiaCarry, from its podium in an alternative universe, thinks it would be a waste of taxpayers’ money for colleges to spend more for added security if this bill becomes law. Colleges aren’t spending anything now “to keep criminals off the campus,” allows Jerry Henry of GeorgiaCarry. And since the presence of armed students would make campuses safer, it would be unnecessary to burden the taxpayers or anybody else to buy that benefit. This will come as welcome news to the University of Georgia, which ponied up over $5 million in 2015 for its campus police department.

A reality-based understanding of implementation costs has to start with the argument in the legislature for allowing only students with concealed carry permits to possess weapons on campus. Concealed carry permits are issued only to people who’ve passed criminal and mental background checks and been fingerprinted, demonstrating that they’re “responsible adults.

But here’s the thing. Since the bill allows concealed weapons in most but not all areas of the campuses, how’s anybody going to know that they’re not present in the restricted locations? It seems that there are only two possibilities.

One is to implement the provisions of HB 859 under an honor system, in which colleges just count on the “responsible adults” with concealed carry permits to leave them behind when entering the restricted areas. But I can’t imagine why the state would expect colleges to rely on an honor system when that’s certainly not what we count on in other settings, such as airports, many government buildings, and elementary and secondary schools where there are boundaries between areas where firearms are permitted and areas where they’re not. Even “responsible adults” have to pass through manned security checkpoints to get into the gun-free areas. We don’t rely on the honor system in those instances because everybody understands that doing that would essentially erase the boundaries between the restricted and unrestricted areas.

Maybe you can, but I can’t think of any alternative to an honor system making a dead letter of the bill’s distinction between unrestricted and restricted areas other than manned security checkpoints at all the entries and exits into and out of the gun-free zones. Let’s go the whole nine yards here and suppose that Governor Deal gets the additional restrictions he wants. So in addition to dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and athletic events guns are also prohibited in day care centers, disciplinary proceedings and, at the discretion of the colleges, faculty and administrative offices.

Now imagine yourself the administrator at a campus, which is a smallish city like the University of Georgia, responsible for implementing the law. Setting up the checkpoints would be a nightmare.

Day care centers, residences, disciplinary proceedings and athletic events might be manageable if expensive. But what do you do about buildings that house both faculty offices and classrooms where the former may be gun-free zones but the latter not? You can’t secure the entire building because you’d be barring concealed carry permit holders from taking their Glocks to class. So would you have to collect faculty offices behind a security checkpoint? That would mean major modifications and associated costs for buildings where classrooms and offices aren’t already segregated that way.

In my former life on a college faculty, faculty offices typically weren’t segregated in that fashion, and that was by design to encourage spontaneous interactions where students just follow professors back to their offices to continue conversations that began in just concluded classes. But a student armed in class wouldn’t be able to continue the conversation in the professor’s office without making an appointment to come back unarmed to get through the security barrier.

And this could get even crazier. If faculty and administrative offices are to be gun-free zones but aren’t conveniently collected in secure areas, does the college set up a checkpoint at each faculty and administrative office?

So here’s the position that HB 859 puts our colleges in. They can rely on an honor system that makes a mockery out of the bill’s limits on where firearms may be carried on campus. Or they can spend who knows how much money installing the hardware and adding the personnel needed to make those limits real, passing the costs on to either the taxpayers or to students in the form of higher fees.

Perhaps what’s worse, if the General Assembly heeds Governor Deal’s call to further limit  firearms on campus, the heaviest cost of taking the limits seriously would be to transform our campuses from welcoming places in which students, faculty, staff and visitors move about freely to forbidding places bristling with security checkpoints obstructing free passage at every turn. If that’s what the college experience is to be reduced to, I thank the fates that I knew it in better times.


Image: Hairy Dawg Carrying on Campus is a composite image created by from a promotional photo of Hairy Dawg from and a piece of a promotional gun photo from

Leon Galis

I'm an Athens, GA, native and have been living in Athens since 1999 after retiring from the faculty of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. Since 2008 I've written approximately 80 columns for the Athens Banner Herald and a handful for Flagpole Magazine in Athens.  

  1. Eileen Dight

    It beggars belief that students should be allowed to carry concealed weapons. I can see it now: Trigger-happy heroes and more people injured by “friendly fire” than by the gunman.

  2. News flash you are already on an honor system.

    This bill only de-criminalizes an “adult” who has passed a background check, obtained a permit to exercise an enumerated right and as a group have lower crime rates than trained law enforcement.

    It’s sad that the same argument against restoring our 2A rights, despite decades of contradiction, with each incremental restoration is the same one; vetted, lawful, weapons carrying citizens are a threat to “public safety”. Have they been? Are they? Will they become one?

    The fact of the matter is Georgia’s permit carriers are an asset to public safety that some refuse to accept.

    1. Lee Leslie


      I’m sure you are the exception, but since we have no way of knowing if you are legally carrying, trained, sane, sober, thinking clearly, etc., campus carry is a nuisance that will have us trading fear of the unknown for fear of you and your ilk with a gun.

      When a partisan Supreme Court reimagined my rights by interpreting the 2nd Amendment in a new way, the Court still confirmed that guns could be limited and regulated. Campus carry isn’t a restoration of rights, it is just a stupid partisan pander to the gun industry lobby and a fix to problem that is pure macho fantasy. It isn’t an asset to public safety. More people with guns makes it exponentially more difficult and dangerous for law enforcement and innocent people.

      1. Hardly? Well if you examine the decades of honest peer reviewed data (we have lots) rather than “feelings” or perceptions, the college campuses that have restored the right have no issues.

        Armed citizens shoot more criminals and less innocents than law enforcement. The far majority of police support lawfully armed citizens. Why, because they know and deal with reality.

        But I value your “opinion” and your “more guns = more crime” mantra. There are 8 colleges that have the data to prove your point… Awaiting a reply but prefer something more than a biased opinion
        Interesting you bring up SCOTUS as they have never made a wrong call. The Heller vs. D.C. decision, I believe you are referring to, it’s not so much that Heller prevailed but that 4 of our SCOTUS judges in their circular logic believe that contained within our bill of rights is a “State’s Right” to form an Army loyal to the state rather than the people and the people had no right to keep or bear arms… They still sit on the court. One more liberal judge is all it will take.

        1. Reliable studies on this subject are very hard to come by because Congress prohibits the use of federal funds for firearms research by agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.

          1. Obama via executive order post Sandy Hook directed a CDC study into “gun violence” the report findings were published summer 2013. I wonder why Obama, the major media outlets failed to comment???

            It appears criminals don’t like being shot and armed victims suffer less murder, rape and personal injury with most armed encounters not even requiring a shot to be fired. This is supported by literally decades of non-biased peer review honest research.

            Congress took CDC’s “gun violence” budget but then gave it back for the study of traumatic brain injury. Hah, who said Congress has no sense of humor. Oh the irony.

            Anyone who desires to know the real reason Congress stopped the biased “studies” (propaganda) this is the best source I have found. It’s three pages long but if one does not to be ignorant of this “issue” please feel free to educate, scrutinize and fact check it or not. It does not omit the truth to support an agenda.

            Oh and primarily thank our Emory University’s Dr. A. Kellerman for Congress revoking CDC’s “gun violence” budget. He was the most prolific using our own money to aid the erosion of the right.

          2. Biased politicized “research” should be avoided and never paid for through public funding. Let the Bloomberg-(MAIG, MDA, Every Town), VPC, Gabby’s Gang and others pay for it.

            Engage yourself to read the three pages of detailed specifics why CDC’s budget was revoked then returned for TBI. The reason link details it. If you don’t get it after reading that you likely never will. Fact check it as well. Try to be open minded.

            Here is the link again as it appears you didn’t read it.

  3. As has been pointed out about a bazillion times in various places, District of Columbia v. Heller did not affirm a right under the Second Amendment to possess firearms on college campuses. The holding was actually very narrow extending only to a right to keep firearms in one’s home for self-defense. It’s too bad people still have to belabor this point nearly a decade after the decision. But here’s the key passage (Opinion of the Court, p. 54). “Like other rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose…..Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing constraints and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” Justice Scalia left the door open for even more limits on the right to keep and carry arms by adding this footnote: “We identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures only as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive.” So the decision to permit weapons on college campuses is strictly a policy matter, not a constitutional requirement

    1. It’s fairly clear to an average person who has taken the effort to actually read the federalist papers and our constitution as to the founding fathers purpose and intent. It’s why they specifically worded that particular right (2A) as the right to “not be infringed”, for once the precedent was set of infringement, then given time, the right would cease to be one.

      A glaring example is our Nation’s capitol where it eventually became “unlawful” to possess a functional long gun in one’s own home. Handguns had long been banned there. They continue to fight for top honors as the most deadly areas to live with Chicago-who was the last liberal anti-gun bastion to restore the right to carry in public in 2012 (McDonald vs. Chicago decision). Both have the most restrictive gun laws in the nation. Imagine that?

      Americans do not require educated idiots in robes to interpret our constitution for us. All they need is to be aware of the purpose and intent of the right and why it exist. Get that wrong and it’s a foundation based on failure.

      This still carries on today but despite the prohibitionist mentality, it will change. NYC has issued 1,500 firearms carry permits. It’s a city of over 3 million. A woman living alone in a high crime area is not justification to “exercise a right” to carry in public a firearm.

      In our Nation’s capitol get caught with an expended and inert .22 shell casing, a citizen will be arrested, jailed,, issued bond, have a court date, pay a hefty fine and lose their 2A rights. This was after Heller and after being forced to issue “may” issue carry permits.

      So really the honest issue is what is a right? What “right” must one be subjected to a criminal check, beg the state’s permission in order to be granted a permit and pay a poll tax to secure it?

      Harriet Tubman is said to have claimed: “I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more, if they had known they were slaves.” If Americans understood just what a right is, what it’s for and why it exist they would grow intolerant of those who desire to separate them from it. Guess what, they are beginning to comprehend this and it has been a trend for several decades as it progresses forward restoring once held individual rights.

      1. A day or so ago, you were extolling the wisdom of the Heller majority. Now they’re all “idiots” in black robes. I don’t even know where to start. So I won’t.

        1. You sir should go re-read my reply. It was a lamenting post at the bias and agenda driven elite in complete contradiction of our bill of rights. Those same 4 SCOTUS judges still sit.

      2. And just to so nobody reading our palaver goes away misinformed, the issue in McDonald wasn’t whether there’s a right to carry in public. It was an “incorporation” case. That is, the issue was whether the holding in Heller applied to the states as well as to the District of Columbia. The majority (Alito delivering the opinion of the court) held that it does apply to the states. I won’t try to explain what “incorporation” is. That would tax the patience of anybody reading this. There’s no substitute for reading the opinions themselves, all 207 single-spaced pages of them.

  4. How’s that “Honor System” working out in our campus “gun free zone”. Don’t worry when campus carry passes THEN they will be forced to spend money on more security because legal guns will be on campus because more guns, more crime….. Now keep repeating “more guns, more crime” until you’re convinced.

    Student selling a pound of weed. But, but, how’s he gon to pay for he schooling?…-shot-near-georgia-state-university/82102080/

    Inside the gates of the Piedmont North University Housing complex on Piedmont Avenue, Oops, it’s a campus crime. Just a few more feet and it would have been an Atlanta crime…

    Fox is liberal left, just not full retard liberal left…

  5. until they allow guns at political rallies they are all hypocrites. that’s the real test of their second amendment support.

    1. Depending on where the rallies are held, Georgia law already allows guns at them. See O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127 (2015)

        1. I don’t see any exclusion for political rallies with candidates here.

          (b) Except as provided in Code Section 16-11-127.1 and subsection (d) or (e) of this Code section, a person shall be guilty of carrying a weapon or long gun in an unauthorized location and punished as for a misdemeanor when he or she carries a weapon or long gun while:

          (1) In a government building as a nonlicense holder;

          (2) In a courthouse;

          (3) In a jail or prison;

          (4) In a place of worship, unless the governing body or authority of the place of worship permits the carrying of weapons or long guns by license holders;

          (5) In a state mental health facility as defined in Code Section 37-1-1 which admits individuals on an involuntary basis for treatment of mental illness, developmental disability, or addictive disease; provided, however, that carrying a weapon or long gun in such location in a manner in compliance with paragraph (3) of subsection (d) of this Code section shall not constitute a violation of this subsection;

          (6) On the premises of a nuclear power facility, except as provided in Code Section 16-11-127.2, and the punishment provisions of Code Section 16-11-127.2 shall supersede the punishment provisions of this Code section; or

          (7) Within 150 feet of any polling place when elections are being conducted and such polling place is being used as a polling place as provided for in paragraph (27) of Code Section 21-2-2, except as provided in subsection (i) of Code Section 21-2-413.

          (c) A license holder or person recognized under subsection (e) of Code Section 16-11-126 shall be authorized to carry a weapon as provided in Code Section 16-11-135 and in every location in this state not listed in subsection (b) or prohibited by subsection (e) of this Code section; provided, however, that private property owners or persons in legal control of private property through a lease, rental agreement, licensing agreement, contract, or any other agreement to control access to such private property shall have the right to exclude or eject a person who is in possession of a weapon or long gun on their private property in accordance with paragraph (3) of subsection (b) of Code Section 16-7-21, except as provided in Code Section 16-11-135. A violation of subsection (b) of this Code section shall not create or give rise to a civil action for damages.

          1. The National candidates say secret service won’t allow, small pols say the venue doesn’t allow. But they don’t object to the prohibition.

        2. Many people don’t realize how permissive Georgia’s gun laws are.

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