Guns are back in the news, and while I think it’s good news, some disagree. The Legislature passed, and Governor Deal signed, HB280 into law. Sure to be dubbed “Blood on Campus” by the opposition, the law allows the carrying of weapons on certain parts of public school campuses by certain people under certain conditions. I’ll address those conditions so that you are fully aware of the law’s impact, but I’ll start with the observation that Gov. Deal’s signature was a pleasant surprise as he vetoed a similar bill last year. Instead of attempting to override the veto, the Legislature worked out the issues between them and the Governor, with HB280 the result.
In order to carry on a post-secondary public educational institution, one must have a GWCL (weapon license). Without it, the penalty is a felony, 2-10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, to carry in violation of the law, so it’s a big deal. Were a GWCL holder to violate any of these provisions, it is a misdemeanor but could well give grounds for the revocation of that person’s GWCL.
The new law applies to Georgia’s public colleges, technical school, etc., but doesn’t mention private colleges. I don’t believe private colleges are in limbo however, I believe that the Legislature simply recognized that private property rights allow private colleges to do as they wish anyway. I’ll address that in more detail another day, but as written the new law only applies to post-secondary public learning institutions. It does not apply to elementary, middle or high schools!
Another location limitation is that there is no carry permitted in student housing (including fraternity houses) or athletic events. So it’s still off limits to carry to Sanford Stadium or Grant Field, or the intramural athletic facilities of the schools.
Last year’s deal breaker (pun intended) was that Gov. Deal wanted child care facilities to be off limits to guns, and thus vetoed last year’s bill, so this year child care or day care facilities on campuses are off limits. Also, no carry is permitted in rooms where disciplinary hearings are held. I have to assume they mean where such tribunals are being held at the time, as it is impossible to know where hearings may have been held in the past. There are some other bizarre restrictions, but those are the main location limitations to gun carry on campus.
The biggest “limitation” is that any gun carry must be concealed. It is the only time that Georgia law provides for concealed carry. The “we don’t want the kids to be scared” faction won out over “guns aren’t bad” faction. Look for that “concealed” limitation to expand in the future.
Since you’re going to ask, here is their definition: “’Concealed’ means carried in such a fashion that does not actively solicit the attention of others and is not prominently, openly, and intentionally displayed except for purposes of defense of self or others. Such term shall include, but not be limited to, carrying on one’s person while such handgun is substantially, but not necessarily completely, covered by an article of clothing which is worn by such person, carrying within a bag of a nondescript nature which is being carried about by such person, or carrying in any other fashion as to not be clearly discernible by the passive observation of others.” OCGA 16-11-127.1
So Georgians now have the limited ability to carry on school campuses, subject to the above limitations. Carry and Be Safe.