Concealed carry soon allowed on public college campuses

Concealed carry being allowed on campus

Starting Saturday, Georgia's campus carry bill takes effect.

House Bill 280 passed the state Senate back in March.

Nicole Butler spoke with a student about their reaction to this bill and how the state's public colleges are preparing for the changes.

It's just another day at Middle Georgia State University, but on Saturday there will be some big changes coming to the campus with Georgia's campus carry bill taking effect.

Some students, like Noah Cole, say it makes them feel on edge.

"It's just more of a, you don't know who's going to necessarily have a gun, especially most of the public schools in Georgia are pretty big, so it could be anybody," Cole says.

Cole says he's not against people having guns, but he says anything can happen.

"My dad, he's in the military. He owns a gun at home, but the only time I've seen it or used it is when we went to the gun range, so it's in that controlled setting, but then on a university campus, it's not necessarily always going to be controlled," he says.

Middle Georgia State University's Chief of Police, Shawn Douglas, wants to alleviate that concern. He says the people who are permitted are carrying out of self-defense, not to intimidate anyone.

"So I wouldn't see that there would be any reason to have any fear or anxiety about someone in the class having it. 9 times out of 10, if not 10 out of 10, you're not going to ever see the weapon or know the weapon is there," Douglas says.

Douglas broke down the law, saying it only applies to people who have weapons carry licenses. It is still illegal for anyone without that license to carry a firearm on campus.

Douglas also says the law only applies to handguns, so long guns like rifles are not permitted, and you must carry the firearm in a concealed manner.

"The weapon for the most part is concealed, which is what the law requires. If I pull back my coat, you can see that I am wearing a weapon," he says.

He says you can also conceal your weapon by draping your shirt over the firearm or putting it in a bag or purse.

However, he wanted to stress that the firearm must be immediately accessible to the owner so it doesn't get into the wrong hands.

Weapons carry license holders are permitted to carry their firearms at any building that's owned by the university including classrooms, cafeteria, and library.

However, intercollegiate sports venues just one of the places where your firearm is not allowed.

Campus student housing is also off-limits including Greek housing and residence halls, and so are faculty offices or rooms where disciplinary proceedings are being conducted.

Finally, you cannot carry your firearm in any classes where high school students are present for dual enrollment.

Chief Douglas says their goal is to educate everyone from faculty to students to make sure everyone feels comfortable with the changes. 

Douglas does advise all students to keep their permits to keep on them if they do choose to carry.

We also spoke with other colleges like Georgia College in Milledgeville who say they will be holding information sessions for faculty, staff, and students on the new law through the upcoming fall semester.

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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