May 6, 2016 Radio Commentary

Campus Carry Loopholes Closed by Veto

Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, May 6, 2016 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler

In the 40 days following the session, Governor Deal vetoed a total of 16 bills – four Senate bills and twelve House bills – and explained exactly why they should not become law.

To explain his Day 40 veto of the Campus Carry Bill, he reached back to a 2008 Supreme Court case to quote Justice Scalia, whose opinion included the most complete explanation of the Second Amendment ever contained in a Supreme Court opinion. Justice Scalia said, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is NOT unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose … nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on … laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings…”

Then, Governor Deal went further back to the October 4, 1824 minutes of the Board of Visitors of the newly created University of Virginia. Present at that meeting were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison – one was principal author of the Declaration of Independence and the other, principal author of the U.S. Constitution. This is their rule concerning students and firearms, “No student shall, within the precincts of the University, introduce, keep or use any spirituous or venomous liquors, keep or use weapons or arms of any kind….”Then, Governor Deal reminded us of H.B. 60 that he signed into law in 2014, to expand places licensed gun owners could take their weapons. At that time, campus carry WAS considered but NOT adopted.

After that explanation, Governor Deal pointed out two loopholes in H.B. 859. Loophole No. 1: “There is no requirement that the armed individual actually be a student, only that they possess a license to carry a weapon.” Continuing to Loophole No. 2, he said: “Since most, if not all, of our colleges are open campuses, this bill will allow any licensed gun owner to bring a concealed weapon onto the campus and neither police nor other law enforcement personnel will be allowed to even ask the individual to produce evidence of his license.” (Emphasis added.)

He, also, reminded Georgians that colleges and universities – not students – are responsible for keeping students safe at school. Then, he asked colleges and universities to review THEIR policies and make the necessary changes to protect their students. Consider this: Even if H.B. 859 had become law, students under age 21 could not carry weapons and must rely on college-provided protection.

So, I have a question: Did legislators miss these two HUGE loopholes or did they intend to allow non-students to carry weapons onto college campuses? Governor Deal should be commended for closing these loopholes, even though he had to veto a gun bill. For Georgia Insight I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.