Legislators address guns at universities
by Jon Gillooly
January 13, 2014 11:26 PM | 2982 views | 8 8 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print

State Senators Lindsey Tippins, left, representing west Cobb, chats with Judson Hill, right, who represents east Cobb as Sen. Bill Jackson listens in before the Senate convened on the opening day of the state legislature under the Gold Dome in downtown Atlanta on Monday. <br>Staff/Jeff Stanton
State Senators Lindsey Tippins, left, representing west Cobb, chats with Judson Hill, right, who represents east Cobb as Sen. Bill Jackson listens in before the Senate convened on the opening day of the state legislature under the Gold Dome in downtown Atlanta on Monday.
Staff/Jeff Stanton
ATLANTA — Cobb lawmakers expect action will be taken this session on whether to allow licensed students 21 and older to carry guns on university campuses.

But hey are mixed in their support of a “campus carry” law.

State Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell) is an opponent. He said a bill that didn’t make it last year would have allowed students to carry guns on campus, but not in dormitories.

“So basically, they would be allowed to walk around campus and have to leave them in their car, which I don’t know if I want to see someone put a gun in their car and then someone come by and rob it,” Wilkerson said.

Another part of the bill would have allowed local school boards to designate a particular school employee — a nurse or custodian — for example, to carry a gun in a kindergarten through 12th grade school.

“If we have a concern about safety, I’d rather a trained professional be inside the building, because what you’re talking about is a teacher who then has to make a decision whether to go out and try to apprehend somebody or they stay and protect the students they are responsible for,” Wilkerson said. “Personally, I’d rather them protect the students they are responsible for and get them out of harm’s way if there is harm in the building.”

Wilkerson said he’s not met a teacher or principal who favors the idea of allowing anyone other than a police officer to carry guns on public school grounds.

For protection

State Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb), a former chairman of the Cobb Board of Education, doesn’t believe the K-12 part of the bill will be considered this session, which began Monday.

But he does believe action will be taken on a campus carry law. Tippins said allowing college students to arm themselves could prevent crime.

“If you’re old enough to have a pistol permit, I personally don’t have a problem with it,” Tippins said. “I realize anything can be abused, but we’ve had some campuses where we’ve had a good bit of crime, and I think if people know that students could be armed it may be a deterrent. Some of this street crime we’ve seen with a lot of students going back to the dorms at 10, 11, 12 at night, a lot of them have been robbed. It was quite common down in Atlanta last year.”

State Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Smyrna) said there are enough people in support of a campus carry bill and enough opposed to see the matter brought back up for action this year.

“It is going to have to be addressed because there are too many people on both sides to ignore it,” Hill said.

But Hill, an Army veteran who’s seen combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, has concerns about the kind of regulatory burdens allowing guns on campus would put on university staff. In the military, for example, there are various statuses of a weapon.

“Are you locked and clear? Are you locked and not loaded or are you locked and loaded? The reason we have all those regulations is to make sure accidents don’t happen,” he said.

These are the kinds of decisions university presidents would face if a law was passed to allow guns on campus. Yet while it’s simpler to keep the gun ban in place, Hill said it is worth considering some revisions to the law for the same reason that Tippins brought up.

“Because on some of our college campuses, it’s potentially not safe for our students,” Hill said. “I’m just not sure that us in the Legislature deciding that they can carry is the right answer because there are so many nuances, and we need to proceed with caution on this one and make sure, whatever we decide, that it’s been blessed by the Board of Regents who live and breathe every day dealing with our children, basically young adults being educated, and we need to make sure we proceed with caution.”

Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University, says most of the university professors, staff and administrators he’s come across think a campus carry law is a terrible idea.

“There are instances on campus, frequently there are disagreements on campus, there is occasionally parties, alcohol involved in dorms at least, properties near campus, it just seems like a combustible mix and not well advised,” Swint said.

Swint is also convinced the Legislature will decide on this issue this session.

“In Georgia, gun ownership is a big deal, and that’s a potent political issue, and so gun rights groups have a lot of influence, that’s pretty clear,” Swint said. “It’s just that the Legislature has to be satisfied putting guns on college campuses, is that going to be a horrible idea, and in my opinion at least that has the potential to be a horrible idea.”

Comments-icon Post a Comment
NO GUNS on campus
January 14, 2014
I agree with Dr. Swint's statement. I have seen unhappy students with failing grades, blaming the professors' on the grade they had received. You don't think a desperate student would perhaps consider getting his gun (if he has one in the car) and use it? In today's life - very possible and I believe all professors down at KSU are well aware of the risks if guns would be permitted.

Tippins and other Cobb legislators should take the time and meet with our professors at KSU and learn about real life.
John Galt
January 14, 2014
"meet with our professors at KSU and learn about real life." That's the funniest thing I've read all day. Thanks!
Car mount
January 14, 2014
I support automatic guns mounted on cars which will keep everyone safer. I hope the assembly addresses that this year too.
Lib in Cobb
January 14, 2014
@Car Mount: With armor piercing bullets?

You are too funny, thank you for the laugh.
January 14, 2014
Schools are run by liberal Democrats if they had a gun they wouldn’t use it, when it comes to a crazy trying to kill children with a gun, bomb or gasoline a good bullet to the head is the only answer. You need trained dogs to help element this threat that’s one of the most cost effective deterrents. Crazy people are smart enough to look for a gun free zone because they are cowards.
Lib in Cob
January 14, 2014
Cobb CSI: Gun free zones are ineffective, just like the patchwork of ineffective gun control laws all over this nation.

VA Tech where 31 people were murdered with a gun was listed as a gun free zone. Connecticut has very strict gun control laws which did not prevent 20 children and 6 adults from being slaughtered.

Any other suggestions?

Liberal Democrats run the schools because they are much more intelligent than conservatives.
Lib in Cobb
January 14, 2014
"I see dead people". Guns on campus, pure lunacy.
Jim in middle ga.
January 15, 2014
I keep hearing about how everyone is worryed about guns on campus and how people are going to get wild or ticked off at a teacher and start shooting. Well what most don't know or act like they don't is that it is legal to carry a weapon in your car or truck on campus as long as you have a license to carry.

So the big deal shouldn't be about letting guns on a campus as they are already here but about giving the honest person that legaly can carry the right. If you take your time and look around at people when your shopping, going out to eat, at the mall, then you might be surprised at how many people are carrying a handgun. You sure don't see people dieing left and right from these wild gun fights. I carry everyday and I also work at a major college, and as far as all these News papers talking about the people that work in major schools are against the change, again they talked to two or three people and make up what they want everyone to hear, if you are for guns then they don't want your opion.
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