The following email was distributed Wednesday, March 2, by Augusta University President Brooks Keel:
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing today on House Bill 859, also known as Campus Carry legislation. Passed by the state house last week, the bill would allow anyone 21 or older with a concealed weapons permit to carry a gun anywhere on a public college or university campus, except for inside dormitories, fraternities and sorority houses, and at athletic events.
With a decision expected in the coming days, I want to reiterate our stance as a member institution of University System of Georgia that we support state law in its current form.
I would also ask that you take a moment to read the following testimony offered today by Chancellor Hank M. Huckaby on behalf of Georgia’s public colleges and universities:
“Chairman McKoon and members of the committee, thank you for allowing me to provide testimony on this important measure before you today.
For many of you, it comes as no surprise how our institutions and faculty feel about firearms on campuses. The Board of Regents, our 29 presidents, our campus police chiefs and many parents support the current firearm law for our campuses.
We feel strongly that current law strikes the right balance between creating a safe environment on our campuses while affording those individuals who are carry users a safeguard location. This position is supported by the experience of campus presidents and campus public safety departments, who are closest to the day-‐to-‐day realities and operations of the state’s public colleges and universities.
It is important to note that students and faculty at our institutions are served and protected by trained, POST certified police forces. These uniformed officers go through the same training requirements that our local law enforcement officials do, with a more specialized focus on the campus environment and our student population. Our campus police officers will tell you that allowing students to have firearms on campus makes their job extremely challenging, particularly if an extreme emergency were to occur.
As a former member of the legislature, I can assure you that I understand the position on both sides of this important debate and appreciate your thoughtfulness as you consider this legislation.
Again, I want to thank you for allowing me to be here today to speak on behalf of our campus communities, which are vibrant, dynamic and ever-‐changing environments. We are about educating students and increasing the number of Georgians who have completed college. To continue to do this, we must provide our students, faculty and staff a safe environment, which is a responsibility that the University System takes very seriously.
The bottom line – we oppose this legislation.”
The safety of our students, faculty, staff, patients and visitors is our top priority and we will continue to work with the university system office and state lawmakers to monitor the progress of this bill.
Thank you for your continued support of our university.
Brooks A. Keel, PhD
President & CEO, Augusta University