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Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a bill that would have “allowed” Peach Tree State residents to exercise their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Residents who are already “allowed” to carry a concealed weapon in public (i.e., issued a license by the state State after the applicant has undergone a criminal background check and payed the county a fee of around $75). Here’s Governor Deal’s official statement . . .

HB 859 seeks to amend O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127.1, which relates to the carrying of weapons within school safety zones. It would add an exception to the prohibition of carrying or possessing a weapon in such school zones, to “any licensed holder when he or she is in any building or on real property owned or leased to any public technical school, vocational school, college or university or other public institution of postsecondary education,” except for “buildings or property used for athletic sporting events or student housing, including, but not limited to fraternity and sorority houses…”

Some supporters of HB 859 contend that this legislation is justified under the provisions of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution which provides in part that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Identical words are contained in Article I, Section, I, Paragraph VIII of the Constitution of the State of Georgia. It would be incorrect to conclude, however, that certain restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms are unconstitutional.

In the 2008 case of District of Columbia v. Heller, United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, writing the opinion of the Court, reviews the history of the Second Amendment and sets forth the most complete explanation of the Amendment ever embodied in a Supreme Court opinion. While the subject matter of HB 859 was not before the Court in the Heller case, the opinion clearly establishes that “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” Justice Scalia further states that “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on…laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings…”

Georgia, like most jurisdictions, has set forth statutory provisions defining what constitutes those “sensitive places” and has imposed specific rules relating to the presence of weapons in those places. Indeed, the Georgia Code section which HB 859 seeks to amend is called the “Georgia Firearms and Weapons Act.”

Since the right to keep and bear arms in sensitive places such as those enumerated in HB 859 is not guaranteed by the Second Amendment nor the Georgia Constitution, the inquiry should then focus on whether or not those places deserve to continue to be shielded from weapons as they are and have been for generations in our state.

Perhaps the most enlightening evidence of the historical significance of prohibiting weapons on a college campus is found in the minutes of October 4, 1824, Board of Visitors of the newly created University of Virginia. Present for that meeting were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, along with four other members. In that meeting of the Board of Visitors, detailed rules were set forth for the operation of the University which would open several months later. Under the rules relating to the conduct of students, it provided that “No student shall, within the precincts of the University, introduce, keep or use any spirituous or venomous liquors, keep or use weapons or arms of any kind…”

The approval of these specific prohibitions relating to “campus carry” by the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and the principal author of the United States Constitution should not only dispel any vestige of Constitutional privilege but should illustrate that having college campuses free of weapons has great historical precedent.

That college campuses should be a “gun free zone” is a concept that has deep roots in Georgia as well. In the 2014 session of the Georgia General Assembly, HB 60 was passed and I signed it into law. That bill greatly expanded the areas where licensed gun owners could take their weapons. At that time, campus carry was considered but not adopted.

While there have been alarming incidents of criminal conduct on college campuses in which students have been victimized during the past two years, do those acts justify such a radical departure from the classification of colleges as “sensitive areas” where weapons are not allowed? The presumed justification is the need for students to provide their own self protectionagainst such criminal conduct. However, since students who are under 21 years of age would be ineligible to avail themselves of such protection under the terms of HB 859, it is safe to assume that a significant portion of the student body would be unarmed.

As for the buildings and places referred to in this legislation, I will simply call “colleges.” In order to carry a weapon onto a college, there is no requirement that the armed individual actually be a student, only that they possess a license to carry a weapon. Since most, if not all, of our collegesare open campuses, this bill will allow any licensed gun owner to bring a concealed weapon onto the campus and neither police nor other law enforcement personnel will be allowed to even ask the individual to produce evidence of his license.

If the intent of HB 859 is to increase safety of students on college campuses, it is highly questionable that such would be the result. However, I understand the concerns of the authors of this legislation and the parents and students who want it to become law. They apparently believe that the colleges are not providing adequate security on their campuses and that civilian police are not doing so on the sidewalks, streets and parking lots students use as they go to and come from classes.

I have today issued an Executive Order directed to the Commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia and the Chancellor of the University System of Georgia, requesting that they submit a report to me, the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House by August 1, 2016, as to the security measures that each college within their respective systems has in place. I hereby call on the leaders of the municipalities and counties in which these colleges are located, along with their law enforcement agencies to review and improve, if necessary, their security measures in areas surrounding these colleges. Since each of these municipalities and counties receive significant revenue by virtue of the location of these colleges in their jurisdictions, I believe it is appropriate that they be afforded extra protections.

Since much of the motivation for HB 859 is the commission of crimes involving the use of firearms on college campuses, I suggest to the General Assembly that it consider making the unauthorized possession and/or use of a firearm on a college campus an act that carries an increased penalty or an enhanced sentence for the underlying crime.

From the early days of our nation and state, colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed. To depart from such time honored protections should require overwhelming justification. I do not find that such justification exists. Therefore, I VETO HB 859.

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  1. Well….
    We frequently use the founding fathers words and ideals in our arguments.
    Looks like he wins that hand.

    • He’s a hypocrite unless he’s for banning alcoholic beverages and making the punishment for using them, along with any mind altering substance not prescribed by a physician, the same as possessing a firearm.

      Edit: I mean on campuses, not everywhere in Georgia.

      • Unfortunately, Deal is mid-way through his second and final term as Gov. From my understanding, the comments urging to veto and pass were split pretty evenly. The difference is that the people that voted for him urged him to sign the Bill. The people that did not vote for him (Bloomberg groups, my liberal colleagues at UGA, Moms Bought By Bloomberg) urged him to veto. He went with the group that either lived out of state or voted against him in the last election….. Republicans like Deal (oh, we call him Shady Deal) have greatly contributed to Trump’s success.

    • Tom,

      “Looks like he wins that hand.”

      Not by any means. Deal made disingenuous use of a partial quote to a much longer passage. The complete document is here:

      And here is a more full quote from the relevant section:

      “No Student shall admit any disturbing noises in his room, or make them any where within the precincts of the University, or fire a gun or pistol within the same, on pain of such minor sentence as the faculty shall decree or approve. but the proper use of musical instruments, shall be allowed in their rooms, and in that appropriated for instruction in music.
      Fighting with weapons which may inflict death, or a challenge to such fight, given or accepted, shall be punished by instant expulsion from the University, not remissible by the Faculty; and it shall be the duty of the Proctor to give information thereof to the civil magistrate, that the parties may be dealt with according to law.
      No Student shall, within the precincts of the University, introduce, keep or use any spirituous or vinous liquors, keep or use weapons or arms of any kind, or gunpowder, keep a servant, horse or dog, appear in school with a stick, or any weapon, nor, while in school, be covered without permission of the Professor, nor use tobacco by smoking or chewing, on pain of any of the minor punishments, at the discretion of the Faculty, or of the board of Censors, approved by the Faculty.”

      The first paragraph is a noise ordinance. Note how pistols are mentioned, and that firing them only merits a “minor sentence”. If weapons were strictly prohibited, I doubt firing one would be treated as a minor infraction.

      The second paragraph talks about expulsion for the USE of weapons for combat or dueling, which evidently WAS considered a major infraction, as it should be. This makes perfect sense.

      The pertinent quote from Deal’s press release is contained in the third paragraph. As you can see, the effect of the entire statement implies exactly the opposite of what Deal is asking us to believe – it is simply offering up a list of items, including servants and PETS, for which a student should get permission, and, if a student does not, specifies MINOR punishment.

      This is just another sorry example of B.S. from a politician that lies to us because they don’t think anyone will check their facts and call them out on it, or that anyone will care even if they do. Detestable behavior, and a detestable man to use it to deny the rights he is sworn to uphold.


  2. The “sensitive places” argument never holds up when put to the real-world test. If there are no legal carriers and no armed security, it is a target-rich environment for someone who ignores the law. Universities are exactly the kind of place where guns should be carried all the time because they are good targets for either insanity or terrorism.

      • Well, if a place is too “sensitive” to let just anybody carry a gun there, there ought to be a security protocol to protect all that sensitivity, and b t w the people you’ve prevented from protecting themselves there.

        Really, that’s an argument for encouraging licensed carry, by responsible, peaceful folks. This here is so “sensitive” let’s encourage people already background checked, with lower rates of crime, violence, and violence with guns than the pop at large to tool up, show up, and help keep this “sensitive” place safe.

        Really, you can’t get around the presumptions in all restrictions like this one that folks in general are simply not to be trusted, and gun-positive folks, double plus so.

    • “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bears arms shall not be infringed, unless a bureaucrat deems it a “Sensitive space”, then its ok to infringe.”

  3. Mealey mouthed sophistry. I will do my best to see he never holds any further elective office. First in the primary, and on the off chance he gets the nomination, then in the general!

    • First off this bill would not have given licensed carriers full carry privileges that they have in the rest of the state as the firearm would have to have been concealed. I have no real problem with this as your average campus is stuffed full of gun muggles as well as anti-gun tools. Governor Deal acknowledges this in his pathetic justification along with the fact that only adults over the age of 21 are allowed to be licensed. What he fails to note is how high the number of over 21 students there are on the average Georgia campus, simply put lots of folks go back to school to further their education and he chooses to disarm them. Lots of parents visit their kids on campus for various reasons and he chooses to disarm them too.

      Deal further enlightens us to his base anti-gun leanings when he says “this bill will allow any licensed gun owner to bring a concealed weapon onto the campus and neither police nor other law enforcement personnel will be allowed to even ask the individual to produce evidence of his license.” If the gun is concealed how will the police even know to ask for evidence of a license. Of course he ignores the fact that anyone intent on evil could conceal a firearm on their way to whatever evil destiny they have in mind and the police still won’t know that someone is carrying a firearm.

      * Full disclosure: both myself and my daughter are Georgia Weapons Licenses holders, and by his veto Deal has proclaimed we are not worthy to carry at the campus of the University that she attends.

  4. Scalia was dead wrong. There are NO restrictions on civil rights, none whatsoever. The frequent argument that one cannot yell “FIRE” in a crowded theatre is completely wrong. YES ONE CAN. Nothing prevents you from doing it. The word fire has not been removed from society. Now if you do cause a panic by doing so you certainly must face the consequences. But nothing restricted you from doing it.
    Let’s look at the internet and your 1st Amendment rights for a moment. Certainly people use words and thoughts to harm others. Would we then say that we must restrict bandwidth or ask permission to post from the government or do a background check or charge a fee or register your computer to exercise your free speech? Ridiculous, right? Then how so is it not equally ridiculous to limit what arms you may carry and where you may carry them? You harm no one by the simple act of exercising your right. And therefor Scalia was dead wrong.

    • “…or register your computer to exercise your free speech…”

      Actually they are working on this, I have no doubt. Recall the clipper chip? State involvement in encryption technology. Google and their super cozy relationship with the state.

      If they could easily mandate licensing for internet access they would be doing so already. It’s not exactly easy to do, that’s the only thing holding them back.

      Give them a little time. Imagine that you need to hold a state license to connect to the internet, complete with SSO login to a state run centralized server before you are allowed to browse the net, post on forums, order things from Amazon like dishwashing detergent, movies, AR-15’s etc.

      Boy, they’d love to get control of it at that level – does anyone think I am wrong about this?

      • Why would .gov be working on this? All of the listed objectives have already been achieved. Just surreptitiously.

        • “All of the listed objectives…”

          I don’t think ‘all’ applies, they have lots, yes, all, no.

          Plus, the state is never in a condition where they say to themselves, ‘we have plenty of control, we can stop now’.

          They would love to license internet activity, think of all those fees that could be levied, taxes imposed, tracking of who does what and when, fines and jail, websites that could be permanently be shut. Think of how much more free people could be to communicate when they don’t have to worry about people trolling them or injecting unwanted thoughts and ideas into the dialog.

          They could even integrate the internet access key via rfid into state drivers licenses to make it super convenient for the user, simply insert the card into each IEUAD (Internet End User Access Device) and browse and post away, people wouldn’t have to remeber all those messy passwords and the state could put a stop to identity theft this way – see, it would be so much better.

    • Actually there are tons of restrictions on civil rights. Your “fire in a theater” example is no different than campus carry – you CAN carry onto campus just like you CAN yell “fire” in a crowded theater, but you’ll get in trouble for it. Scalia, probably the most strictly constructionist justice we’ve had in decades, is totally correct here that as a Constitutional matter, restricting carry in “sensitive areas” is perfectly in accordance with the Constitution and past precedent.

      The real argument is not whether such restrictions are Constitutional or not, it’s whether they’re good policy or not. And of course they’re terrible policy.

  5. Well he was a Democrat in his early days….so its not like anyone shouldn’t have seen this coming.

    • The GOP is full of former democrat RINO’s who knew they had to switch parties to get elected – they never switched their liberal leanings.

  6. Lots of words there. Am I reading this right?

    Paraphrased; “We hold the second amendment of the constitution in the highest regard, that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, ever.

    Except in those cases where we believe it should be infringed, because we say so.”

    Is that about it?

    • Pretty much sums up the official government position. And explains EXACTLY why the Second Amendment was written the way it was – an attempt to prevent the government from doing what the Founding Fathers knew in their hearts every government would try to do.

    • When he said “The constitution says ‘the right to bear arms shall not be infringed’, but we think it can be…” I quit reading. That second paragraph he wrote was enough for me to make my decision.

  7. This Democrat turned Republican does not understand why we carry and use guns for personal defense. We believe that we can ensure our security much more effectively than the government can. Passing sentence enhancements and describing security plans does not make someone safer. The threat of an active shooter can be eliminated with an armed citizen. This statist shows that he is uncomfortable empowering the individual.

  8. The correlation of a university’s board of directors rules for their university to the state creating laws prohibiting carry from all universities (public and private) does not justify this Governor’s claim. It just means that the owners (the board being the representative of all the owners) of the university can do it. I agree that the private owner of a university (or anything) can prohibit “arms”, I do not agree that it should (although it already is) governed by state law for those private universities (or other) that wish to allow it.

  9. The 1824 Board only forebade the students from carrying arms, not the staff. And also consider that the students also participated in militia training on a well regulated basis.

  10. Here is what i got out of that. He wants to make it more illegal to carry on campus because that will stop bad guys. I’m sure that will work in spades. 😐

  11. Why would you need to pass a law in the first place if the courts ruled that it was something that wasn’t able to be regulated? At that point legislation would effectively mean nothing. Although the power of regulation is within your hand it doesn’t mean you have to regulate anything. Such a cop out.

  12. “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate” …the correct definition of “shall not be infringed.”

    Personally i am sick of having to “shake it” for the road-bosses.

  13. “Peach State”

    “Peach tree” (sic) only relates to the super-abundance of said named streets within the Capital city as derived from a once present peach tree along Peachtree St.

  14. I’m not really sure how this prevents criminals from carrying out gun crimes on campuses but whatever.

  15. All those words, and yet still no explanation of how the current prohibitions on carrying guns on campus stop illegal usage of guns on and around said college campuses.

  16. Alright Deal, be prepared to face a constitutional carry bill now. I’m sure you’ll find a bs excuse to oppose that too.

  17. I wonder if he plans on banning “sprituous and venemous” liquors on campus too. After all, Jefferson and Madison…
    You can’t just pick and choose which things you want.

  18. If you are a true originalist then the words and actions of the originator are final. So if Madison was ok with the restriction on”campus carry” then it is probably constitutional. However, there is a caveat to this. In 1824 the Bill of Rights did not apply to the States. That would come with the 14th Amendment. Second however, the Virginia Constitution contains its own Second Amendment language which is more detailed than the language used in Federal document. Therefore, we must conclude that restricting the right to bear arms in some locations in Constitutional. You don’t have to agree with the policy to accept with its legitimacy.

  19. Governor Deal is not really a friend to firearms freedoms….he never has been if you look into his history.

    And he waited until there wasn’t time to override the veto this session just to push it back…my understanding is that it has the votes needed.

    Someone needs to challenge him in the primaries. Desperately.

    I’m sick of these authoritarian jerkoffs.

    • Sounds like bad planning on the part of the legislature, unless there was some reasonable belief that Deal would sign it/not veto it.

      (The same thing happened, IIRC, in West Virginia a couple years ago? And IIRC, the legislature didn’t make that same mistake a second time.)

  20. “Why I really vetoed campus carry….

    I’m a progressive douche and Bloomberg gave me a bushel basket full of cash.”

  21. The misconception of course is that my right to self-protection is derived from the constitution of the United States.

    It is not.

  22. Why? Because there’s a lot of black kids in Georgia and it’s a frightening concept letting black 20 something’s carry in a classroom.

    Not that any kid of any color intent on doing harm on a college campus is stopped by a gun free zone.

    Deal’s just another stupid, redneck, middle of the road establishment Republican dumb ass.

    • “Let”? What is this concept of “let”. Anyone who wants to carry a firearm in class, and who chooses to do so, will do so – regardless of who or what does or does not “let” them.

  23. Career politician who started as a Democrat and then callously switched parties to Republican to keep his own job secure.

  24. The approval of these specific prohibitions relating to “campus carry” by the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and the principal author of the United States Constitution should not only dispel any vestige of Constitutional privilege but should illustrate that having college campuses free of weapons has great historical precedent.

    Oddly enough, criminals never seem to get the message – and criminals victimizing those who have been disarmed by the State also has great historical precedent.

    While there have been alarming incidents of criminal conduct on college campuses in which students have been victimized during the past two years, do those acts justify such a radical departure from the classification of colleges as “sensitive areas” where weapons are not allowed?

    Hey, genius: the criminals already have weapons in those allegedly “sensitive” areas. It is gobsmackingingly obvious that designating colleges as “sensitive areas” in which “weapons are not allowed” doesn’t work.


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