University of Georgia President Jere Morehead released a statement through an Archnews email Wednesday night voicing his opposition to Georgia House Bill 859, which advocates for allowing students to carry firearms on campus.
In the email, Morehead included remarks from University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby, who testified against HB859 in the Georgia Senate Judiciary Committee earlier Wednesday. Morehead said in the email that he supports Huckaby's testimony.
Huckaby said in the testimony that the USG Board of Regents, 29 university presidents, police and parents of students “feel strongly that current law strikes the right balance between creating a safe environment on our campuses while affording those individuals who are carry users a safeguard location."
Huckaby said in the testimony that the opinion is “supported by the experience of campus presidents and campus public safety departments, who are closest to the day-to-day reality and operations of the state’s public colleges and universities." He also said that “allowing students to have firearms on campus makes [police officers’] jobs extremely challenging, particularly if an extreme emergency were to occur."
Under state law and UGA policy, students cannot carry guns on campus. HB859 would allow anyone over 21 years old with a weapons license to carry a concealed gun on public college campuses in Georgia, except in dormitories, Greek houses and at athletic events.
The chancellor said that USG must provide students and faculty a safe environment, a responsibility it takes very seriously, according to his testimony.
“The bottom line — we oppose this legislation,” he said.
The House bill in question passed the House on Feb. 22 by a 113-59 vote, and is in the Senate Judiciary Committee.