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Will the Details Doom 'Campus Carry' in Georgia?

Jonathan Golden, a senior at Georgia College in Milledgeville, Ga., isn’t sure if Gov. Nathan Deal should sign House Bill 280, so-called “campus carry” gun legislation.

Golden told the Rushville Republican the bill is “one of those things that’s not a bad idea, but it’s not a great idea.”

“There’s definitely people that, I think, could carry on campus and I would almost want them to. I have a friend who’s a combat medic and I know some military guys,” Golden said.

“But I think the fact that you don’t have to go through training to get a handgun, people like that who aren’t trained and aren’t responsible could be carrying on campus and should something happen [it] could make the situation worse,” Golden added.

However, another Georgia College student, Jake Hendon, is absolutely opposed to the bill.

“The judgment used by most college students probably isn’t the best, and so sometimes, especially in such tight quarters, emotions can run high sometimes,” Hendon said. “People can make impulsive decisions, and so I don’t think it’s best for a learning environment to have guns on campus.”

As Hendon and Golden will discover in the years ahead, this decision, like many that will impact their lives, is out of their hands.

It is up to Deal again. The ball is in his court after the Georgia Assembly, for the second year in a row, approved legislation to allow concealed weapons permit holders to carry guns on college and university campuses.

However, there is talk in Atlanta that the lack of a comma, along with the definition of a key phrase, could take the decision out of Deal’s hands, too.

Deal, a Republican, vetoed essentially the same legislation last year. As is always the case under the Georgia Constitution, the governor has 40 days to make up his mind. And the calendar pages are turning. The Assembly approved House Bill 280 on March 31.

Although Deal said at the time that “college campuses should be ‘gun-free zones,’” he also acknowledged the concerns of those who supported so-called “campus carry” legislation.

“They apparently believe that the colleges are not providing adequate security on their campuses and that civilian police are not doing so on the sidewalks, streets and parking lots students use as they go to and come from classes,” Deal said before vetoing HB 859 in 2016.

There are a few differences in House Bill 280, this year’s version of campus-carry, as compared to last year’s effort. And they could be enough to prompt Deal to scrawl his signature on this legislation.

This time, on-campus child-care centers have been added to the list of places where even CCW permit holders couldn’t carry guns, along with areas where high school students might be attending classes.