We asked Tech students how they feel about the Campus Carry bill

How would students feel about their own safety on campus if this bill were passed?

For anyone who hasn’t heard yet, the Georgia House of Representatives recently passed HB-859 and HB-792. The cliff notes version? HB-859 would allow people 21 or older to apply for a concealed-carry permit and have their gun on campus. Permits would require fingerprinting and background checks and guns would still be prohibited in dormitories and Greek houses. HB-792 would allow college students to possess weapons of electrical charge that are sold commercially. Both bills are pending consideration by the Senate.

Proponents of HB-859 say that studies show students would be safer, but opponents of HB-859 say that studies show that students would not be safer. There are plenty of statistics to support both sides, but the fact is… the people the bills will affect are not numbers and we, as students, cannot be represented as such.

So I decided to ask around a bit more. How are students at Georgia Tech actually reacting to this bill? What do the students of Georgia Tech want? How would students feel about their own safety on campus if this bill were passed?

As I wandered around the CULC talking to people about the issue, I got a range of responses.

Over two-thirds of the people interviewed asserted they would less safe at least to some degree, citing various reasons as a cause.

Austin, second year, Aerospace Engineering

“College is a cesspool of hormonal alcoholics.” Austin said that he would be worried about drunken, angry people abusing their guns. As a gun-owner himself who would get a concealed-carry permit if the bill passes, he asserts that it takes time to learn how to properly use a gun and, even if you have a permit, during high-stress situations like a robbery or mugging, people still might not react well or have good aim.

“Unless you’re a guy in an old western, you’ll probably get shot before you pull out your own gun,” Austin remarked.

Alayna, first year, Chemical Engineering

Many students who feel uneasy about HB-859, including first year chemical engineering student Alayna, are more supportive of HB-792, which allows stun guns and other similar commercially sold weapons on campus. “Atlanta is already unsafe. Letting people have guns on campus would be bad,” Alayna says.

She believes that there are other alternatives to guns that people can use to protect themselves like stun guns, pepper spray or simply walking around in large groups at night. She suggests if the bill passes, Tech would likely see more people using the public transportation at night like the Midnight Rambler or the Stingerette. However, there are students who live off campus that would not be able to take advantage of the public transportation system as much, particularly among students that live in a notoriously shady area of Atlanta, Home Park.

Other students’ reasons for disliking HB-859 include a suspicion that more students would commit suicide, and that the students themselves wouldn’t be armed. Since guns would not be allowed in dormitories, students that live on campus would not have a place to keep their weapon if they obtained a concealed-carry permit.

Roughly a third of the students interviewed claimed they would either feel safer or their feeling of safety would not change if the bill passed.

Savannah, second year, Chemical Engineering

Second year chemical engineering major Savannah asserts that concealed-carry and open-carry are very different. She says, “If we really want to reduce crimes on campus, we should only allow concealed-carry.” Concealed-carry permits require fingerprints, psychological evaluations, and background checks that can be rather stringent in many counties, including Fulton County.

“I think the people that hate this bill don’t understand how much the state can get after these permits,” Savannah says.

In fact, she dislikes HB-792 more than HB-859. Since stun guns do not have to be registered with the government, she thinks more people would abuse them than they would firearms. Coming from a family in which all of the adults have concealed-carry permits, Savannah asserts that no law enforcement official would sign an affidavit to allow you to apply for a permit unless you have taken deadly force and self-defense classes. Due to the regulations around concealed-carry permits, Savannah says she would feel safer if the bill were passed and that she will apply for a permit when she turns 21.

As for the students who live on campus who would not be allowed to keep a gun in their dorm rooms, student proponents of HB-859 generally say the system is not perfect in that way, but keeping guns out of dorm rooms is a good idea since there wouldn’t be a great place to store them and other people could easily access a gun that isn’t theirs.

Viraj, third year, Mechanical Engineering

Some students remain indifferent on this issue. Third year mechanical engineering major Viraj says, “As long as everyone has a permit, it should be fine.”

He and others that are indifferent do request that facilities are more readily available to allow students to take firearms classes so they can learn and take advantage of the bill if it were passed. Several such facilities do exist in the greater Atlanta area, but not necessarily close enough to campus that everyone would have easy access.

Georgia Tech definitely has its fair share of people on all areas of the spectrum on this issue. At the end of the day, the new bill affects students more than anyone else.

It’s our voices that need to be heard. It’s your voice that needs to be heard.

Georgia Tech