written by: Joe Adgie
The Georgia House of Representatives passed a significant law that, if also passed by the state Senate, will allow permit holders to carry guns in bars and churches and will significantly reduce the penalty for carrying a weapon on a college campus.
Previously, a weapon on a college campus brought about criminal charges, but the bill that was passed reduces that penalty to a maximum fine of $100 and no jail time.
The bill passed with 119 yes votes, 56 nay votes, and two non-voters.
The three representatives from Valdosta, Amy Carter, Ellis Black, and Dexter Sharper, were split on their votes. Carter and Black voted for it, while Sharper voted against it.
This bill, House Bill 875, had until recently included a provision that would make firearms on college campuses legal for licensed gun owners, but this was excluded from the final proposal of the bill.
The bill was then sent to the Georgia Senate on Wednesday, where it will require passage from the mostly-Republican Senate and then would require a signature from Governor Nathan Deal for it to become official.
Major Ann Farmer of the VSU police stated that this bill, should it become law, would have to be enforced as a state law.
“My job is to enforce the laws of the state,” Farmer said in an email on Wednesday. Farmer declined to discuss the matter further.
This is not the first time a bill such as this has been passed. Last year, the House passed HB 512, a bill very similar to this year’s HB 875, with the exception of the legalization of firearms on college campuses.
A year ago, when HB 512 was being discussed, VSU president William McKinney joined the presidents of every other school in the University System of Georgia, as well as the police chiefs of every school in the system, in opposing legislation that would legalize concealed weapons on college campuses.
McKinney declined to comment on the legislation Wednesday, saying it would be “imprudent to comment on legislation that is still pending.”