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Campus carry in effect; GSC impacted

By Walter Geiger and Derek Petty Among the new laws taking effect July 1 was the bill known as the campus carry law. The new guidelines apply on the Gordon campus and all others. The law was shot down in the waning hours of the legislative session in 2016 but passed this year and was signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal. Licensed students and visitors can carry concealed weapons on campus and in campus facilities with some exceptions. However, licensed faculty members cannot carry in their classrooms, offices or administrative areas. Weapons may be carried by those licensed across campus and in buildings including instructional areas, classrooms, labs, health centers, student centers and summer camps. Concealed weapons are prohibited at sporting events, in residence halls and in any area used for disciplinary proceedings, preschool or day care, or used by visiting high school students. The new provisions do not apply on field trips and at facilities owned by the university system in other states or countries where local laws apply. Guns may not be secured in lockers on campus but may be secured in parked cars if certain guidelines are followed. GSC police chief Jeff Mason was apprised of the various tenets of the new law by university system officials and does not foresee problems. During the fall to spring school year 2016-17, no guns were taken from students on campus, chief Mason said. Students and others milling around campus last week had mixed feelings about the new law. Most thought it odd that students can carry concealed with a permit while faculty cannot. ’I don’t understand why faculty members couldn’t carry. I don’t think that is right. I think they should be allowed if students can carry,’ noted Jean Vail, a nursing major from Fayetteville. Vail felt as if student safety will be improved but did not like the restriction on carrying at sporting events. ’If you are allowed to carry on campus, why wouldn’t you be able to carry at sporting events,’ Vail asked. Tyler Sutton, a general studies major, felt the new law would lead to increased security on campus but wondered about the faculty restriction. ’I just feel it could be kind of dangerous but, at the same time, it is something we need. With everything that goes on you kind of need that safety,’ Sutton said. ‘What if a student does something toward a staff member because they failed them or something.’ Joshua Bishop, a pharmacy major from Thomaston, has a concealed carry permit, admits he plans to carry his weapon on campus and is glad the law now allows him to do so legally. ’I feel it should have been passed long ago. If someone bursts through the door – a maniac with a gun everybody calls the police. You’re calling a person with a gun to diffuse the situation,’ Bishop said. He noted one of his professors recently posed the question of what to do in the event an armed intruder appeared suddenly in a classroom. Bishop answered he would grab his pistol. The professor encouraged him to call the police because they are trained. ’I’m trained, too,’ said Bishop who felt Gordon should have a faculty carry board and a set number of faculty members should be armed. Yvonne Plummer was on campus to register her child for classes this fall. She was carrying concealed during her visit. She liked the idea of armed students but noted they are young and need firearms training, gun safety courses and instruction on how to properly secure firearms. ’Go to a gun range. Learn how to handle that gun. Learn how to shoot it and how to properly store it. If you are going to have it, learn how to handle it properly,’ she said. Plummer was not enamored of the restrictions on students having guns in their dorms. ’I think that is where they are going to most need protection. They should be allowed to keep them in the dorms,’ Plummer said. Longtime GSC facilities director Richard Vereen was nonchalant about the new law. ’Rules will change. You adjust to the changes,’ Vereen concluded.

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