Last month, Georgia’s governor signed a bill that allows anyone over the age of 21 who holds a Georgia weapons permit to carry concealed firearms in most areas of the state’s universities and colleges.
Georgia now joins 10 other states who have passed “campus carry” laws – Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. The laws vary in each of these states, with some imposing stringent limitations or enforcement of total bans of guns on any state university or colleges.
Opponents of campus carry laws say that allowing guns on campuses will only increase the amount of accidental violence, while supporters of the laws say that banning guns at universities only increases the risk of violence.
However, there appears to be some issues with Georgia’s bill, including ambiguity over what many consider fundamental legalities of the law.
Issues raised in the bill’s early stages included banning guns in college faculty offices, disciplinary facilities, and childcare facilities. There were also questions on how to handle colleges that offered dual-enrollment students. And although the final version of the bill addresses those issues, it does so in an unclear manner.
For example, a paragraph that addresses exceptions reads that the new law “shall not apply to faculty, staff, or administrative offices or rooms where disciplinary proceedings are conducted.”
The question this sentence poses, because of the lack of an Oxford comma, is does the law means offices and disciplinary rooms or offices when they are being uses as disciplinary rooms.
Another issue has to do with dual-enrollment students. Policies on identification of these students vary by schools, but for the most part, the majority of schools discourage any questioning of a student’s dual-enrollment status. There is also a federal education privacy law in place.
These policies and laws make it almost impossible to know whether or not an “allowed” room or space for the new gun law contains high school students.
Lawmakers claim that these gray areas will be answered soon, however, the law goes into effect July 1st, leaving very little time to address these issues.
In a discussion about the new law, Attorney Larry Kohn commented, “It is critical that before this law goes into effect, these issues are addressed. Otherwise, it could cause serious legal issues when it comes to enforcing the law. If a person is charged with violating the law over one of these issues, there could be a strong argument over whether the law was actually broken.”