For the second time in a month, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has disappointed conservatives. After vetoing a religious liberty bill under extraordinary pressure from corporate interests, Deal broke from the Republican legislature once again on Tuesday by striking down a bill that would have allowed college students with a concealed weapons permit to carry on campus.
“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,” Deal said in a statement. “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.”
Deal had previously expressed tepid support for the bill, but he asked the General Assembly to send him a revised version that would have exempted on-campus daycare centers, official disciplinary hearings, and offices of college faculty. The legislature declined to compromise, putting the governor in a difficult position. And whether he made his final decision based on his own conscience, outside political pressure, or for some other reason, the veto makes him two for two when it comes to taking sides against constitutional conservatism.
Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston, the sponsor of the bill, said, “At a time when our Second Amendment rights are under attack, I believed and still believe that it is very important that we do all that is necessary and proper to strengthen our constitutional protections. Georgians should not be required to give up their constitutional rights when they set foot on a college campus.”
The bill, of course, was strongly opposed by the liberal anti-gun movement. Groups like Everytown for Gun Safety launched a multi-million dollar ad campaign against the legislation. Celebrities like R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe spoke out against the bill, using a national platform to do so. In a USA Today op-ed, Stipe worried that allowing concealed carry on campus would have a dramatic effect on college life.
“I’m worried about classrooms,” Stipe wrote. “If students are debating a contested subject – which is crucial to learning and expanding their worldviews – I worry what will happen to that open and honest conversation when the participants know that the people around them could have loaded guns in their backpacks.”
Well then get to worrying, Mr. Stipe. Because guess what? Law or no law, students should know that the people around them “could have loaded guns in their backpacks.” Except now, they can be assured that anyone who does is comfortable with the consequences of breaking the law.
But for some reason, liberals simply can’t get this concept through their heads. And apparently some Republicans can’t either.