The Georgia House of Representatives is putting forth a bill, HB 29, the “Georgia Campus Carry Act of 2013.” If passed, this act would grant citizens concealed weapon permits to legally carry their gun in “public or private technical school, vocational school, college, university or institution of postsecondary education.” Therefore, anyone who fulfills the requirements to attain a concealed weapons license may carry their gun on a college campus.
Opposition to this bill raises the debate of whether or not the students of Sandy Hook would have been saved if guns were allowed in schools. A valid argument, to be sure, but it does not relate to the bill because the bill does not address K-12 school zones – only post-secondary education.
What does this mean for you as a student?
HB 29 simply gives the schools the opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not to allow concealed carry on campus. So, if we as an Emory student body do not want guns on our campus, we can voice our opinions to the Emory administration to have that right revoked.
Allowing concealed carry is not a novel idea. Connecticut, Maryland, Alabama and 20 other states currently give colleges and universities the individual decision to carry guns on campus.
As it relates to security, the safety level rises on campus. While there are other steps to be taken to ensure more responsible gun ownership (e.g. better background checks), allowing gun owners to carry their weapon is a major safety feature. In the current situation, a gunman on campus faces legitimate opposition from campus police. Yet, in a classroom or other building setting, the gunman has complete control over the situation.
Students should have the right to take the responsibility of carrying a firearm, permitting them the opportunity to defend themselves in a horrific situation. Allowing concealed carry on campus would not encourage vigilantes; it would simply allow students to defend their person.
This is not to say the police on campus do not do their job, or are not adequate to keep students safe in general situations. But if a crazed gunman appears on campus, it would seem natural that a student should be able to defend himself: history shows the consequences of the alternative.
Furthermore, this bill does not advocate gun ownership or the concealed carry of firearms. It simply increases people’s liberty by allowing them to carry their gun on campus if – and only if – the Emory administration decides to allow this.
The opposition believes that allowing guns on campus would create an arms race that would incentivize otherwise unarmed criminals to start using guns to commit crimes. Robbery in the state of Georgia carries a penalty of as little as a year in prison. Armed robbery, even with a fake gun, carries with it a minimum 10-year prison sentence. Furthermore, the Emory campus averaged one robbery per year for the last three years. Allowing guns on campus is not intended to deter common crimes, but to prevent the unforeseeable mass tragedy.
Ceteris paribus, a campus with additional gun carriers on campus would be less of a target than a campus that does not allow concealed carry. But again, this is an issue to take up with Emory if HB 29 passes.
This is a sensible and hardly controversial bill that extends the right to carry a firearm to the more concentrated population of a college.
If the opposition is concerned with new, untrained gun owners carrying guns, do not gripe about the proposed problem. Call your legislator and advocate for the successful completion of a firearms safety class in order to receive a concealed weapons permit. Such a requirement is already in place in the state of Florida.
By comparison, HB 89 passed in Georgia in 2008 and allows people to carry firearms on MARTA. Observe the difference: there were 94 robberies in 2007, 61 in 2010. The crime rate per 1,000 riders dropped from 3.34 percent to 2.86 percent. It is clear that HB 89 has not created the Wild West situation that opponents of HB 29 have suggested.
Ryan Bass is a College junior from Jacksonville, Fla.