[private]Gov. Nathan Deal has vetoed the controversial “campus carry” gun bill, along with another firearms bill that would have allowed guns in churches.
“From the early days of our nation and state, colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed,” Deal said in his veto statement.
“To depart from such time honored protections should require overwhelming justification. I do not find that such justification exists.”
The vetoes of these gun bills follow Deal’s March 28 veto of HB 757, the “religious liberty” bill also favored by conservative Republicans.
Deal’s package of vetoes ensures that some Republican lawmakers will be on the warpath to shoot down his legislation next year, including his proposals for revising public K-12 education.
“His legislative agenda’s going to get much more difficult to pass the next two years,” said a pro-gun lawmaker.
NRA spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen issued this statement Wednesday afternoon:
“We agreed with Governor Deal when he said that the arguments against the campus safety bill lacked validity. He was right then, but he is wrong today. It is unfortunate that Governor Deal vetoed a bill that would have made Georgia campuses safer for his constituents.”
On the other hand, Gordon Harrison posted on Facebook: “I am a professor of business at a Georgia college. If all the gun supporters knew what I know, they would support this decision. If they aren’t in the classroom facing students everyday, they don’t know squat. Good for Gov. Deal, I am grateful. Good for all of us on the frontline.”
“Georgia’s universities and colleges pride themselves in being safe and family friendly environments for not only the students attending the schools, but also for faculty, staff and children enrolled in on campus child care centers,” said Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta).
“I want to thank Gov. Deal for vetoing this senseless legislation that would have created fear on our college campuses and ultimately put our children’s lives in danger,” Parent said.
Deal had issued conflicting statements on the campus carry issue throughout the legislative session, saying initially that the opposition to HB 859 “lacks validity.”
“We heard all the hype that we’re now hearing about campus carry, all the predictions of tragedies,” Deal said in late February. “All the predictions that we were going to open our state up to a Wild West scenario.”
After HB 859 passed, however, Deal asked lawmakers to adopt another bill fixing some parts of the campus carry bill, including a section to keep guns out of day care centers on college campuses. Legislators refused to make those changes and urged Deal to sign the bill anyway.
Deal got a lot of pushback from critics of the bill, including University System officials and the Board of Regents, and parents of college students, urging him to veto the bill.
In vetoing HB 859, Deal wrote:
“In order to carry a weapon onto a college, there is no requirement that the armed individual actually be a student, only that they possess a license to carry a weapon. Since most, if not all, of our colleges are open campuses, this bill will allow any licensed gun owner to bring a concealed weapon onto the campus and neither police nor other law enforcement personnel will be allowed to even ask the individual to produce evidence of his license.
“If the intent of HB 859 is to increase safety of students on college campuses, it is highly questionable that such would be the result. However, I understand the concerns of the authors of this legislation and the parents and students who want it to become law. They apparently believe that the colleges are not providing adequate security on their campuses and that civilian police are not doing so on the sidewalks, streets and parking lots students use as they go to and come from classes.”
Deal also vetoed HB 1060, which was described as “cleanup legislation” for the “Guns Everywhere” bill enacted two years ago, calling it “an encroachment on the peace and tranquility of those who attend houses of worship because they can no longer have the time-honored assurance that they are in a protected place that is free of weapons and long guns. In fact, quite the opposite would be true.”
Deal wrote in his veto message:
“If it were to become law, a house of worship would no longer be considered an unauthorized location for weapons, and any license holder could carry a weapon or long gun into a place of worship without penalty unless they refused to leave “upon personal notification by such place of worship that he or she is carrying a weapon or long gun in a place of worship which does not permit the carrying of a weapon or long gun.”
“This provision also completely reverses the process so that now it will be the places of worship that do not want weapons on their premises that must affirmatively establish such a policy, rather than the other way around.”
© 2016 by The Georgia Report