ATLANTA-Emory University professors, a Georgia State student, elected state officials, religious leaders, and members of the GunSense Georgia Coalition and Outcry all joined forces to speak out against Georgia House Bill 859 at a press conference this morning at Central Presbyterian Church.
Committees in the Georgia General Assembly are now reviewing House Bill 859, commonly referred to as the “Campus Carry” Bill, which would allow any licensed citizen to carry his or her gun on every public college campus in the state of Georgia, with the only remaining limitations being in dormitories, athletic facilities, and fraternity/sorority houses. Each committee will decide whether it thinks the bill should pass, not pass, pass with changes, or be held for a later date.
The 9 speakers from various backgrounds all passionately voiced their displeasures with HB859 and its potential implications on public safety.
Kathryn Grant, Southeast Regional Director of The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, was the first speaker to come to the podium and immediately went through the multiple dangers that having guns on campus could bring, including accidental shootings.
Sean Wallace, a Georgia State University student, Dr. Thomas Remington, Political Science Professor at Emory University, and Henry Hope, Chief of Police at Agnes Scott College, provided important insight from the perspective of living, working, and going to class on a college campus.
It would take away “my feeling of safety,” said Wallace, while adding that he has never before felt unsafe while at Georgia State.
Dr. Remington referenced a study stating that there is a 5-7 times higher homicide risk associated with workplaces that allow guns. He also took on the common argument made from the opposing side that allowing students to carry will keep them safer. “‘Arming students will increase their safety.’ That’s a bogus argument,” claimed Remington. “It will increase their vulnerability.”
Chief Hope emphasized that more guns on campuses is not the public safety answer, actually saying, “it’s irresponsible.”
2 elected state officials also took part in the press conference to voice their opinions.
Clarkston, GA Mayor Ted Terry questioned the point of passing policy that will not solve the problems the state currently faces.
Georgia Senator Nan Orrock (District 36) stepped away from her chamber in order to offer her support and back religious leaders and the Georgia Board of Regents, who have fought against gun expansion in the state. “Enough is enough,” Orrock proclaimed, “It’s an abomination…(Gun) Legislation is spreading like an evil tide across our state.”
From the viewpoint of the religious leaders who were present, Rabbi Peter S. Berg from The Temple and Pastor Gary Charles from Central Presbyterian, both members of Outcry, appealed to listeners’ moral compasses in their remarks.
Berg called gun violence in the United States a “moral crisis,” and Charles urged Georgia residents to “cry out” in opposition toward House Bill 859.
Each of the speakers concluded their addresses by urging the state legislature to keep HB859 from becoming law.
House Bill 859 will remain in Committee Action until all committees have decided what they think the fate of the bill should be. If passed, the bill would move on to a third reading from the Georgia House of Representatives.
By: Zak Huberty and Corey Knapp