Dear Decaturish – A letter to our state senators about ‘Campus Carry’Illustration. Wikimedia Commons.
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Dear Decaturish and state senators,
My name is Laura Jones. I am an Adjunct English Instructor at Atlanta Technical College, and a Graduate Teaching Assistant at Georgia State University, and I am writing to express concerns that I have with HB 859 – the “Campus Carry” bill. While I recognize that the part of the rationale for supporting this legislation is an urgent need to make college campuses across the great state of Georgia safe places for students to learn and for educators for teach, and I am grateful for that, I still want you to consider the potential complications of enacting this legislation.
1. What guidelines will be provided for clearly communicating the circumstances under which a student with a Georgia concealed carry permit could lawfully discharge his or her weapon – and whose responsibility will it be to furnish those guidelines on the college campuses?
2. Since this step is being taken, in part, to increase security on campuses, but since a student would need to be (unless she or he is active military) over the age of 21 to hold a concealed carry permit, what actions should be taken to help make campuses safer for students who are either too young to apply for that license or who otherwise are ineligible to apply for that license?
3. Since most instructors, myself included, feel an enormous responsibility for protecting the safety of our students, how do we reconcile this responsibility with the provision of the original bill which prohibits one from being detained solely for the purposes of determining that the individual indeed has a valid permit? If an educator notices that a student is carrying a gun, don’t you think it is important for that educator to be able to verify that it’s okay for the student carry the gun into the classroom?
4. What empirical data has been collected from the states which currently allow concealed carry permit holders in other institutions of higher education? In other words, what research have you done to provide solid evidence to support claims that campus-carry will indeed make campuses a safer place?
I understand that our Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms is a guaranteed right, and that regulations which limit this right could potentially be used to limit other guaranteed rights as well. And I do not think for a second that passage of HB 859 will result in dire consequences. Still, if this is the best that we can do to increase the safety of Georgia college campuses then we ought to be ashamed of ourselves. We need to do better. And if the evidence we are going to rely upon to support passage of this bill – or to oppose passage of this bill – is strictly anecdotal, then we are succumbing to the pressures of fear to enact legislation at the expense of ration and logic.
As you consider this legislation, please consider that perhaps those who are in the best position to determine if HB 859 will indeed increase safety on their college campuses are the leadership teams of each individual institution. If you support this bill, I urge you to adopt a provision which will extend the right for each individual public institution of higher education to ultimately determine whether or not the potential safety risks and complications of enacting this bill will outweigh the potential benefits.
With gratitude for your service to our state,
Laura E. Jones
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