House Bill 280, aka “campus carry,” has become a polarizing topic in both the Georgia legislature and in the classroom since its re-emergence in this year’s legislative session.
On Wednesday, April 12, those two worlds collided in Dr. Matthew Boedy’s 9 a.m. English 1102 class. Two local state house representatives, State Rep. Matt Dubnik (R-Gainesville) and State Rep. Emory Dunahoo (R-Gainesville), came by to discuss the bill with students. (Republican Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a similar bill in 2016; the new bill passed the Georgia House and Senate and awaits Deal’s decision.)
Matt Dubnik, of District 29, is in his first year as a representative; Dunahoo, of District 30, is serving his second term. Both Republicans are strong supporters of Second Amendment rights and of gun safety training.
One student asked if the representatives believe gun safety training should be required by law prior to purchasing a gun or license.
“I don’t believe the government should make something mandatory because we already have a ton of stipulations on us,” Dunahoo said. “However, you should take it upon yourself to go to a gun range and take shooting lessons. I challenge you, if you go to buy a weapon, take the time to learn how that weapon works.”
Dubnik expressed his concerns about what it would mean to veto “campus carry” again.
“I’m afraid as a person, as a father, as a citizen, as a taxpayer and now as a legislator that if we begin making exceptions or begin tinkering with our freedoms we may go down a path we’re not ready for,” Dubnik said.
Dunahoo blames media coverage of HB 280 for giving the impression that teenagers would be walking around campus with guns like “the Wild West.” In reality, only 22 percent of the student population — those who are 21 years and older — would be permitted to carry on campus and not all of those permitted are even interested in carrying a gun, according to Dunahoo.
The only student in the class who would be eligible to carry on campus said she wouldn’t be carrying a gun if the bill passes, but did not express any opposition.
Dunahoo also discussed a future bill he has been working on for the past two years that he plans to present in a future legislative session. This bill would allow trained faculty and staff to carry in preschools and elementary schools. There would only be a certain number of trained staff allowed to carry in certain zoned areas or during certain situations, such as the presence of an active shooter.
There are 150 colleges in different states practicing campus carry to varying degrees. For example, Tennessee and Colorado allow concealed carrying on campuses without any limitations, while states such as Mississippi and Oregon allow concealed weapons, but schools can limit who carries and where.
The new version of the bill specifies several carry-free zones:
· Child care centers and preschools on college campuses
· Dual-enrolled classrooms or buildings containing high school students
· Sororities and fraternities
· Dorm rooms
· Sporting events
· Disciplinary hearings
· Faculty offices
Deal is said to be uncomfortable with signing the new bill because of a missing comma that leaves ambiguity about areas where people are not permitted to carry.
The missing comma comes at the end of this phrase: “Faculty, staff, or administrative offices or rooms where disciplinary proceedings are conducted.” The comma is missing between “offices” and “or.”
Without the comma, the sentence could be read as saying any administrative space would only be off-limits to those carrying guns during disciplinary hearings. Dunahoo confirmed that the bill was meant to exclude administrative offices from carrying regardless of whether the office was being used for a disciplinary hearing.
Below is a video with the full class discussion: