The Georgia House of Representatives approved a bill Friday that would allow people with weapons licenses to carry concealed guns on public college campuses.
The measure passed 108-63 after more than an hour of debate on the day of a key deadline, called Crossover Day. The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration.
The bill would allow licensed owners 21 years and older to carry weapons on campus, except in athletic facilities, student housing and on-campus preschools.
The measure has advanced through the state legislature despite Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of similar legislation last year.
Bill sponsor State Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton) cited the number of crimes on college campuses in speaking for the legislation.
"What is being suggested is that adults with concealed handgun licenses be allowed to protect themselves on college campuses the same way they’re currently allowed to protect themselves in most other unsecured locations,” Ballinger said.
In testifying against the measure, State Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) shared a personal story about being attacked over the summer while she was on a run. She said she had considered carrying a gun, but decided against it. She argued that the issue of campus safety should be further studied.
“We can't solve this problem by arming our children,” Drenner said. “We have to arm them with awareness and good sense.”
Deal vetoed a similar measure last year after raising concerns about allowing guns in campus day care facilities, disciplinary hearing and administrative buildings.
This year’s bill exempts campus preschools, but doesn’t exempt the other facilities Deal had raised concerns about last year.
"We have tried to be accommodating to his concerns," State House Speaker David Ralston said. "I respect this governor. We have had, and will continue to have a close working relationship in moving Georgia forward and I hope that will include strengthening our rights under the Constitution."