BY EMANI COLLINS
As most Georgia residents know, on May 4th of this year, Governor Nathan Deal signed an act that would allow college students and other campus officials to carry concealed guns on school campuses. Uh oh. Of course, this new measure sparked disagreements in Georgia’s communities. Some people are for the act, while others believe that it is unnecessary. Social media has been an important outlet after the pronouncement of this bill. Many individuals got the news through their Twitter and Facebook accounts. Individuals took to Twitter to discuss the large dispute that the state is now facing.
It is important to observe this topic now because Saturday, July 1st, 2017, is the day when it will officially be legal to carry guns on college campuses in the state of Georgia! Yes, you heard me. Your daughter, who may be a rising senior at the University of Georgia, might have to sit right next to a student carrying a gun. While at Georgia Southern, your nephew may be walking to his ENG 101 course with another student who has a weapon placed in their backpack. Your best friend who attends Albany State University may have to sit in the campus’ dining hall with tons of individuals holding guns. How do you feel about this?
Everyone understands that crime is essentially inevitable. College campuses are known for having robberies, sexually violent acts and shootings. Yes, shootings. Just because this bill has been signed, does not mean that guns have never been on college campuses before. This is just the icing on the cake. The governor has simply just made it legal to carry. Of course, the bill does have a few exclusions. You must be 21 years of age or older and licensed to carry a gun. Also, you can carry your gun to most areas on campuses, but certain parts such as student and Greek housing, administrative offices and classrooms in which high school students will be present are prohibited. How will one be able to keep up with all of this? Time will tell.
Many government officials believe that individuals should be able to protect themselves on college campuses. House of Representatives’ members approved the bill with 108 yeas and 63 nays. Many agree that protection is a priority, but are guns the only means of defense? If only students who are 21 years of age and older and who are licensed to carry are able to “protect” themselves, what happens to the other students who are underage? The bill could bring a lot of positives to campuses across the state, but it could also have a ton of negatives as well.
I spoke with individuals who will be most affected by the bill—parents, faculty of college campuses and students.
Ericka Williams of Atlanta, an educator and a parent of two, recent college graduates, exclaimed, “I disagree with the bill. To carry a gun requires maturity and training—something most young adults do not have. Young adults react emotionally, and guns would cause more hurt than help. More officers on campus would be a better choice.”
Collegiate Track and Field coach, Tony Hawkins, from East Point, says, “The bill does not seem like the best idea. We already have enough students using guns irresponsibly, so I am not sure how this will help.”
Destini Smith is a student at Augusta University, and she states, “If people have a license to carry, I think that it is okay for them to have their guns on campuses. The bill could be a blessing and a curse because there are always individuals who abuse the law. Whether you are on campus or not, there is always someone out there who has a firearm on them; this just makes it legal for them to have it on campuses.”
House Bill 280 will definitely change the culture of many campuses across the state. Whether you believe in the bill, or wish it was never brought to the Georgia community, July 1st is among us. With summer classes being in session during this time and the Fall semester approaching quickly, be sure to remain aware of all laws involving guns on your local college campus. Keep your family members and friends informed. Always pay attention!
Feel free to comment below with your opinion on the new law within the state of Georgia