There have been phone calls and petitions, die-ins and impassioned pleas from leaders on college campuses — but Gov. Nathan Deal decided on May 4 to sign the “Campus Carry” bill into law.
After the NRA’s recent visit to Atlanta — which stirred quite a bit of protest — gun extremists have been sure to push the issue, telling their base that it’s about “being able to protect themselves on college and university campuses.”
But the facts just don’t bare that out. Georgia has an astronomically high rate of homicides from guns. In fact it’s 28 percent higher than the national average. Having a gun present also increases the likelihood that a domestic violence incident will turn deadly by 500 percent, regardless of who owns the gun. Students, faculty, campus police, university leaders and staff have all been unequivocal — they do not want guns on their campuses. Having a gun present simply doesn’t make people safer.
But Gov. Deal and the small, but vocal, minority of gun extremists have succeeded in making our campuses more dangerous.
Deal’s reversal after last year’s veto may come as somewhat of a surprise. Campaign donations show that it was probably just a matter of time before Deal bowed to the gun lobby. In 2014 alone, the NRA reported spending $613,000 to support Deal’s re-election bid.
“This flip-flop will be what Georgians remember about our governor for years to come – that he bent to the Washington gun lobby,” said Lindsey Donovan, who heads the Georgia chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “This will be the legacy he leaves behind.”
He recently told WABE he is concerned college campuses are not safe enough, saying “It’s one thing to simply rail against students having the right to defend themselves, but those students have a right to expect that civilian law enforcement would give them the protection that they deserve.”
When leaders in this state commit to ending rape culture, then I’ll believe safety on campus is really a central concern. When they commit to protecting transgender students from bullying and violence, then I’ll believe safety is a driving motivation. But as long as vulnerable populations are being actively targeted with policies that make them less safe, then I do not believe that this state’s leaders are actually acting in the interest of student “safety” when they are pushing for guns on campus.
However, Gov. Deal in 2017 signaled that he might sign the legislation, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “It is a much different bill,” than last year’s, adding, “You have to give credit to them doing that.”
That’s simply not true. While the language has been tweaked from last year’s bill, allowing guns on campuses is still a huge shift in policy. As 2016 Gov. Deal notes, “having college campuses free of weapons has great historical precedent,” citing the founding fathers.
He goes on to say:
“From the early days of our nation and state, colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed. To depart from such time-honored protections should require overwhelming justification.”
Those words are as true today as they were a year ago.