Lawmakers will take up bill to allow guns on campus

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College students could get the go-ahead to pack heat on their campuses under a gun carry bill that is expected to get a legislative vote during the upcoming General Assembly session.

House Speaker David Ralston made it clear Thursday that he supports the issue of campus carry and is ready to override opposition to the bill from the Board of Regents and the University System.

The major gun legislation that carried over from last year’s session was SB 101, which would expand the number of public places where guns can be legally carried to include college campuses, K-12 schools, and government buildings.

The bill nearly passed last year but bogged down on the last night of the session, in part because of disagreements over the campus carry provision. Ralston indicated he wants to go ahead and allow guns on campuses.

“This is about making sure we do everything possible to protect and expand Georgians’ rights under the Second Amendment,” he said

Ralston said he has talked to many parents of college students who are worried about crime in the areas surrounding the campuses.

“It’s disturbing for me to have to tell them they give up their constitutional rights when they go to college,” Ralston said.

He acknowledged the opposition to campus carry by the Board of Regents but said, “that’s not their job, to make sure Georgians’ constitutional rights are protected.”

In a wide-ranging discussion with reporters of legislative issues, Ralston sounded reluctant to hold any votes on the many competing proposals to carve out new municipal governments in DeKalb County.

“I don’t know that the state needs to be telling DeKalb County what they can and cannot do,” Ralston said. “It’s a local decision at the end of the day.”

He agreed with predictions that the legislative session will be a quick one that adjourns several weeks earlier than usual in mid-March.

The House of Representatives should be voting on the amended state budget “within a week and a half or two weeks,” Ralston said.

The extra money that will be available through the growth of state revenue collections will likely be spent to replenish the revenue shortfall reserve, pay for increased expenditures in Medicaid, and provide additional funding for local school systems.

“There’s a consensus that it should be a positive year for education,” Ralston said. “In the areas of healthcare and education, we’ll probably have some added expenditures.”

That extra spending could mean small pay raises for state employees and teachers – something they haven’t seen in five years.

“I’m hoping we will (have pay raises),” Ralston said.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Board of Regents , college campuses , David Ralston , DeKalb County , gun carry , new cities , state budget