‘Campus Carry’ went into effect on July 1, and the chill on college campuses around the state is palpable. Students, professors and staff must now face the new reality that guns are allowed on their campuses, and the restrictions placed on gun owners are few and hard to enforce.
The law allows anyone with a weapons license — which a person can get in Georgia starting at age 21 — to conceal carry their gun around campus. Although some exemptions were included in this year’s version of campus carry, campuses are already finding them hard to enforce.
For instance, a professor cannot ask a student to leave if they violate the law and carry their gun into the professor’s office. The school cannot post signage about where weapons are and are not allowed. The police cannot ask to see the student’s weapons license. And, if somehow someone manages to get into trouble for violating the law the penalty is a whopping $25. That’s right, for the price a parking ticket, someone can bring a weapon into the office of a professor they are unhappy with and there is little the school can do about it.
While the law does exclude some areas of campus — like student housing, daycares, sporting events and classrooms with registered high school students in attendance — these exclusions are not adequate.
Someone can bring a gun into the lobby of a daycare facility, or just wait outside of it, even if they cannot bring their weapon into the daycare itself. Someone can also bring a gun into spaces where young people are gathered as part of a campus tour, after school program or outreach initiative, as long as those young people aren’t high schoolers gathered for a class they are enrolled in. The exclusions are far too narrow given the realities of how busy and populated college campuses are.
“It’s a law out of fear, not out of responsibility,” Dalton State student Jamie Bennett told The Valdosta Daily Times. “I think there are better ways to handle situations where someone is coming on campus with ill intent than allowing mass people to carry weapons like we’re in the Wild West.”
Bennett added that dealing with an active shooter or other crisis situation is “a lot different than firing a weapon at a target on a target range than it is to point it at another person and fire it.”
Guns are now allowed on college campuses. Schools have their hands tied about how they can even deal with this new reality: staff cannot ask someone to leave for violating the law, police cannot ask to see a weapons license, and the school cannot post signage about where guns are not allowed. Folks can concealed carry on campus and it is their responsibility to know where they can and cannot have a gun. And the penalty — the sole deterrent — for violating this law is essentially parking ticket.
If this sounds like a recipe for disaster, that’s because it is.