All On Georgia

Deal signs campus carry into law

Students aged 21 and older who are otherwise legally permitted to carry a firearm can now do so on public college and university campuses.

Governor Nathan Deal signed House Bill 280 into law on Thursday. The bill will take effect on July 1.

The legislation allows persons 21 and older who are eligible to possess a Georgia Weapons Carry permit to carry a firearm on a public college or university campus. Weapons must be concealed. Students and visitors under the age of 21 would still be prohibited under Georgia law with the exception of military members. Athletic facilities, dorms, fraternity and sorority houses, and buildings where daycare centers are located are all  exempt from the law.

Deal vetoed the 2016 version of the bill after day care centers were not excluded from the legislation. Lawmakers worked swiftly earlier this year to ensure the bill was a priority.

The University System of Georgia and the Board of Regents all adamantly and vocally opposed the bill, which has swayed legislators in years past.

Georgia joins Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. Utah remains the only state to have statute specifically naming public colleges and universities as public entities that do not have the authority to ban concealed carry. Not included in above list, Tennessee allows faculty members with licenses to carry weapons on campus but the law does not extend to students or the general public.

In 23 states the decision to ban or allow concealed carry weapons on campuses is made by each college or university individually: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.