You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Senate committee adds key exemption to Georgia’s ‘campus carry’ gun bill

A bill to allow firearms on Georgia’s public college and university campuses was amended Thursday to exempt areas on some campuses where high schoolers attend class.

The move by the Senate Judiciary Committee effectively allows House Bill 280 to move forward while also giving lawmakers more time to negotiate with Gov. Nathan Deal over a possible compromise.

The action came as the bill was added only 2 1/2 hours before the committee’s previously posted 4 p.m. agenda, which eventually included 20 bills. The committee took a party line vote of 5-3 on the campus gun bill at 7:50 p.m., as the bill was the last heard by the committee in the meeting.

State Rep. Mandi Ballinger, R-Canton, who is sponsoring this year’s bill, has repeatedly made the argument that students have a right to protect themselves in a legal manner on campus just as they can off it. She did so again Thursday, saying the legislation only applies to students 21 years and older. And to qualify for a concealed carry permit, they are required to be fingerprinted and pass a background check.

Critics of the campus gun bill say the legislation could potentially create unsafe environments for students and faculty.

As he did when the bill was being considered in the House, Steve Wrigley, the chancellor of the University System of Georgia, told committee members he did not want it. The system, he said, has prioritized campus safety to address any concerns supporters of the bill may have, including adding public safety officers and new security technology.

All the handful of people who testified Thursday said they opposed the bill, with several saying the late addition of it to the agenda caught them by surprise.

The change made to the bill is directed at students who attend high schools such as state college and career academies that are located on a handful of technical college campuses across Georgia.

It would not apply to the surrounding campus, but just to the buildings that house the ninth- through 12th-graders.

It is not clear, however, that it would include all campuses where high school students are taking class as part of general dual-enrollment programs.

The state House passed HB 280 two weeks ago. A committee change in the Senate prolongs the bill’s path toward final passage, since the House would need to agree or seek a conference committee to work out details.

The measure would allow those 21 and older with a Georgia weapons permit to carry concealed weapons on most parts of college campuses, not including dormitories, sorority and fraternity houses, athletic events and on-campus child care centers.

Deal vetoed a similar measure last year, and he has signaled that he would prefer additional exemptions to the bill that include faculty and administrative office space as well as disciplinary hearings. 

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Georgia Politics

Handel cracks Georgia GOP ‘glass ceiling’
Handel cracks Georgia GOP ‘glass ceiling’

It might not have seemed that way, but the scene at a stuffed Roswell restaurant on the eve of last week’s runoff was a quietly remarkable one. It was the night before the 6th Congressional District vote, and Gov. Nathan Deal was campaigning for a former opponent his staff once described as a spout of “unhinged blather.” Sprinkled...
A new health care debate, Donald Trump, and a spike in breast cancer

Just in time for the renewed, fast-tempo debate over health care in Washington, public health researchers at Georgia State University have produced a pair of studies that help underline just what’s at stake. The more provocative of the two papers has intriguing national implications: In large swaths of the United States, swing areas that handed...
Georgians: Fix health care prices, stop partisanship
Georgians: Fix health care prices, stop partisanship

After the U.S. Senate finally revealed its proposed federal health care bill, advocates revved up their rhetoric with extreme positions, loud cheers and denunciations. “INJUSTICE!” blared the handmade sign of a protester Friday outside U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s office. The Senate’s bill “is morally repugnant,” said...
Will Georgia’s 6th District do this all again in 2018?
Will Georgia’s 6th District do this all again in 2018?

Despite initial relief among Georgia’s 6th District residents that the barrage of campaign ads has come to an end, the reprieve might not last too long. “Now we know what New Hampshire looks like,” said Chip Lake, a GOP consultant based in Georgia. The question is, with 2018 just around the corner, will this year’s astronomical...
Trump signs law making it easier to fire bad VA employees
Trump signs law making it easier to fire bad VA employees

President Donald Trump signed a bill into law Friday that would expedite the process for top officials to fire problematic employees at the long-troubled U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The aim of the accountability legislation is to make it easier to root out the bad apples who have helped contribute to the cascade of scandals at the VA, harming...
More Stories