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UGA parents to Gov. Deal: Would you want guns in your grandchild's school?

This letter to Gov. Nathan Deal was signed by 66 parents whose children attend a child care facility on the University of Georgia campus.

They beseech the governor to veto the campus carry bill, asking, "Would you want people carrying guns where your grandchildren go to school?"

Dear Governor Deal:

We write to you, not only as University of Georgia faculty, staff or students, but as parents of children who attend pre-school on the University of Georgia campus in Athens. Our children attend the renowned Child Development Lab (CDL) at the McPhaul Center, an on-campus pre-school and childcare center for children ranging in age from infants to 5 years old.

As parents, we adamantly oppose HB 859 -- the Campus Carry law -- and in so doing we join the Chancellor of the University System of Georgia, Hank Huckabee, UGA President, Jere Morehead, the UGA University Council, the UGA Student Government Association, the Faculty Senates of multiple colleges at UGA, campus police, and many individual faculty, staff, and students of UGA.

The Child Development Lab at McPhaul Center is one of eight childcare facilities within the University System of Georgia which is located on their respective university’s campus. Children attending campus-based child care programs are provided with unique experiences that cannot be duplicated at other childcare centers in the community, state or country.

CDL children are active members of the UGA campus community, attending various fine art events, exercising at Ramsey Student center, watching UGA sporting events, and going for walks across campus, to name a few of their campus activities. Students and faculty from various colleges and departments also come to our children’s classrooms to teach them about music, science, and other subjects.

Thus, in some ways, our children have very similar experiences to UGA students. They learn, grow, and play on the UGA campus. This is their campus too. In the state of Georgia, with the exception of caregivers picking up or dropping off their students (O.C.G.A.16-11-127.1(c)(7), firearms are not allowed on public school campuses because guns pose an unnecessary risk to the health and safety of our children.

Yet, by passing this legislation, you would be placing firearms on our children’s school campus. Passage of HB 859 may decrease our children’s involvement in campus activities because concerns for their safety would outweigh the benefits of our children attending those events. The CDL administration and teachers may not allow visitors to our children’s classrooms because as currently written under HB 859, guests would be permitted to bring firearms into our school.

Thus, passage of HB 859 will likely limit and impair our children’s access to the developmentally enriching opportunities they currently experience. Passage of this bill may discourage prospective faculty and staff members who have children or are considering having children from choosing to come to UGA over an offer from another institution of higher learning that does not allow concealed weapons on campus.

As parents, we constantly weigh the safety risks of an activity as balanced against the development it can provide for our children. We do all we can to minimize unnecessary risk, sometimes choosing not to allow our children to participate if a safety risk is too great. We require our children to wear helmets when they ride a bicycle because we want them to be as safe as possible while still having the opportunity to grow and play. HB 859, the Campus Carry bill, presents an unnecessary risk to our children.

Gov. Deal, we appeal to you as a parent and grandparent and ask you these questions:

Would you want people carrying guns where your grandchildren go to school?

Would you want people with guns walking by your grandchildren’s playground?

Would you want people with guns riding the bus with your grandchildren?

Would you want people with guns coming to your grandchildren’s classroom?

By passing this legislation as it currently stands, these are questions that we have to ask ourselves, something no parent should have to do.

In our view, the modifications proposed in your March 14th statement are insufficient; the only acceptable modification is that all Georgia colleges and universities be able to “opt out” of campus carry if administrative and faculty bodies deem that appropriate for their campuses.

We urge you to represent the wishes of those living, working, and sending their children to school on Georgia college campuses, including UGA, by vetoing this legislation.



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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.