College gun ban up for review


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Just found this on More good work on the move here in GA.

College gun ban up for review

Jake Armstrong | Friday, August 22, 2008 at 12:30 am
ATLANTA - University campuses are in the sights of state lawmakers looking to expand where Georgians can carry guns.

Carry a gun on or within 1,000 feet of any campus now, and you could be charged with a felony, spend up to 10 years in prison, and pay as much as $10,000 in fines.

But a panel of legislators conducting a wholesale review of Georgia's gun laws soon will solicit opinions on removing or altering the ban. Some students support such a move.

Ross Hevener, 21, a licensed Armstrong Atlantic State University student, said he should be able to carry his .45 caliber Taurus Millennium Pro to protect himself on campus, even if ASSU has its own police force.

"It's not their job to be your bodyguard," said Hevener, who is majoring in information technology.

However, the state Board of Regents supports the gun ban as it stands, and board members would resist changes, spokesman John Millsaps said.

"We would oppose the end of a ban of guns on campuses," he said.

State Sen. Mitch Seabaugh, R-Sharpsburg, who chairs the Senate Firearms Committee, sees nothing wrong with allowing licensed gun owners to visit a college campus while carrying a concealed weapon. Students should be allowed to stow hunting rifles in their cars parked on campus, he said.

Several senators on the committee, both Democrats and Republicans, share that view.

Yet allowing students to carry weapons around campus raises the question of how students, especially those living in dorms, would secure their weapons when they're not carrying the firearms, Seabaugh said.

That is the duty of any responsible gun owner, said John Wharton, campus leader for the University of Georgia chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus.

"Of course, irresponsibility can cause problems," Wharton said.

University of Georgia Police Chief Jimmy Williamson isn't taking sides.

"Whatever is on the books, that is what I'll deal with," said Williamson, whose officers made seven arrests for firearms violations under the ban in 2007.

Williamson did not want to speculate about what effect a change in the gun ban might have.

The specter of gun violence on campuses in Virginia and Illinois is never far from the debate over guns on campus. Supporters say if students had been carrying guns, such massacres could have been prevented. Opponents fear the presence of guns in a college environment, where indiscretion and alcohol often abound.

For Wharton and others, it's simply a matter of safety.

"Police simply cannot react fast enough to stop a mad man from taking lives in mass quantity," Wharton said.

At the national level, the victory in the U.S. Supreme Court over a handgun ban in Washington provided little momentum for efforts to remove campus gun bans. In its ruling in June, the court's majority was careful to point out that its ruling was not intended to cast doubt on firearms prohibitions in schools or government buildings.

The reality is that the gun ban does not keep weapons off campus, Seabaugh said.

"There already are firearms on our college campuses," he said. "These are people who have no regard for our law or policy, or are ignorant of what the law is."

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This is not entirely true. The following is allowed:

(7) A person who is licensed in accordance with Code Section 16-11-129 or issued a permit pursuant to Code Section 43-38-10, when such person carries or picks up a student at a school building, school function, or school property or on a bus or other transportation furnished by the school or any weapon legally kept within a vehicle in transit through a designated school zone by any person other than a student;

(8) A weapon which is in a locked compartment of a motor vehicle or one which is in a locked container in or a locked firearms rack which is on a motor vehicle which is being used by an adult over 21 years of age to bring to or pick up a student at a school building, school function, or school property or on a bus or other transportation furnished by the school, or when such vehicle is used to transport someone to an activity being conducted on school property which has been authorized by a duly authorized official of the school; provided, however, that this exception shall not apply to a student attending such school;

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