ATLANTA -- Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has signed a bill that would allow licensed gun owners to carry concealed handguns on public college campuses.

Deal signed the so-called "Campus Carry" law, HB 280, on Thursday.

A similar bill went to the governor's desk last year, but was vetoed.

The new version, which addressed some of Deal's concerns, has exemptions for athletic facilities; student housing; preschool space; facilities used by high school students; and disciplinary hearings—more exemptions than many backers wanted.

Deal's new release announcing the signing included this statement:

“It is altogether appropriate that weapons not be allowed in sensitive areas on college campuses, and I appreciate the thoughtful consideration given by the General Assembly in expanding these excluded areas within a college campus in this year’s bill,” said Deal. “While HB 280 addresses the rights and restrictions relating to weapons carry license holders on a college campus, it in effect may have greater significance for students who are going to or coming from a campus. Unfortunately, in parts of the state, the path to higher education travels through dangerous territory.

“At the present time, assailants can, and do, target these students knowing full well that their victims are not permitted to carry protection, even those who are weapons carry license holders, because they are either going to or coming from a campus where no weapons are allowed. In recent years, we’ve witnessed college students fall victim to violent attacks in or while traveling to libraries and academic buildings, and while traveling to and from their homes to class.

“As this legislation is more narrowly tailored as to exclude areas on a college campus, I’ve signed HB 280.”

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HB 280 prohibits the carrying of a concealed weapon by anyone, including weapons carry license holders, on the following areas of a college campus:
· Buildings or property used for athletic sporting events;
· Student housing, including but not limited to dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses;
· Any preschool or childcare space;
· Any room or space being used for classes related to a college and career academy or other specialized school;
· Any room or space used for classes in which high school students are enrolled through a dual enrollment program, including, but not limited to, classes related to the “Move on When Ready Act”;
· Any faculty, staff, or administrative offices; and,
· Rooms where disciplinary proceedings are conducted.