Georgia's university system has less than two months to implement a law that will allowing concealed guns on college campuses after Gov. Nathan Deal signed the measure Thursday.
The law, which goes into effect July 1, will allow licensed gun owners to carry concealed weapons on campus, except for some areas, including student housing facilities, faculty offices and athletic venues.
The timeline could be challenging, according to a university official from Texas, which passed a campus carry measure in 2015. When the Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott signed the bill there, the university system had more than a year to implement it.
“We had a little more than a year to prepare, which was very much needed,” said Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, a spokesperson for the University System of Texas.
She said implementing the law in two months would have been challenging. University officials in Texas reached out to students, faculty and other stakeholders, created working groups to discuss implementation of the law, and held weekly conference calls for at least six months.
“There was a lot to do – a lot to work through to understand the law, to understand how it needed to be implemented. And we needed to follow the law, but also do everything to make sure we were keeping our campus communities safe,” LaCoste-Caputo said.
She said colleges needed to put up signs about the law, and the university system also trained campus police officers. Some tasks, including reaching out to students and faculty, were mandated by Texas’s law, but others, like police training, were not.
Georgia’s law does not have specific implementation guidelines.
The University System of Georgia’s Chancellor Dr. Steve Wrigley told schools Thursday not to change their policies until they receive guidance from the university system.
“As we near the July 1st effective date, the system office will be issuing implementation guidance to all institutions,” Wrigley wrote in a letter.
The university system had opposed the measure, and Wrigley had testified against it during this year's legislative session.
“We recognize that many have strong feelings about this new law. It is important that we all work together across our campuses to implement the new law appropriately and continue to provide a top-quality education to our students,” he said.