Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

Campus-carry bill dealt a killing blow, state lawmaker says

State Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartswell, said a full year of negotiations over a bill to permit the carrying of concealed weapons on public university campuses has been for naught – after the General Assembly’s legal counsel pronounced a floated compromise unconstitutional.

The Legislature had been headed toward a measure that would have permitted university presidents to decide whether or not students – licensed and 21 years or older – would be permitted to carry weaponry in bookbags and on their person.

But on Tuesday, Powell and state Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, were informed that optional provisions – whether “opt in” or “opt out” – wouldn’t pass muster. University presidents can't decide what is a crime and what is not. Read the legal opinion here.

Said Powell:

“You cannot legislatively yield away legislative rights to individuals. It’s unconstitutional for us to give college presidents the right to decide [campus carry].”

Powell said he was surprised by the opinion, because the optional provision was originally pitched last year by the Board of Regents – which has opposed previous guns-on-campuses legislation.

Powell said he expects a new bill to be dropped on Monday.

The university said they liked that idea last year. “Right now we’re looking at not even including campus carry,” he said.

The bill is likely to address mental health restrictions on those who are allowed to carry concealed. “We’re trying to go out of our way not to alienate anybody’s rights,” the Hartwell lawmaker said.

But even that is controversial among the most ardent of Second Amendment enthusiasts. Powell said he has pushed for a passage that would bar concealed-carry permits to those who have been adjudicated not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity.

“That’s the stuff they don’t want in the bill,” he said.

Updated: The Associated Press has now filed this:

ATLANTA (AP) -- A key Georgia lawmaker says a provision that would have allowed students to carry weapons on public college campuses will be dropped from a revised gun bill expected to be introduced soon.

Rep. John Meadows, chair of the House Rules Committee, said in an interview Thursday that the bill will instead focus on enhancing reporting of the mentally ill and empowering local school districts to arm employees if they wish.

Last year's bill that would have expanded gun rights on public college campuses and in churches ultimately failed amid objection from university system officials.

Meadows says a potential compromise that would have given university presidents the option of allowing guns didn't pass legal review. Meadows says "the power designated to the General Assembly can't be given to the university presidents."

Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.