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A concerned student on gun control.

Joseph Schriefer
General estate planning attorney

In a recent edition of The Stallion, an individual addressed their concerns about a recent vote by the ABAC Student Government Association to support current house bill 29 in the Georgia legislature, among others, which would lawfully allow firearms to be carried on college campuses in the state. While entitled to their opinion, I need to address some issues with it.
It was stated that safety must be the biggest concern, yet the reason this issue is even being discussed IS because safety is the biggest issue. ABAC has a pretty safe campus, but in the time that I’ve been here there have been forcible sex crimes, aggravated assaults and other weapons related crimes on campus, some of which were committed by individuals who do not even attend this institution who are unaffected by any rules and regulations set by the school. Rules and regulations only affect those that follow them. This is the problem when you broadcast the fact that occupants are in a location where they are unable to defend themselves. Pretty safe is one thing, but remember, Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook were once pretty safe campuses, too.
What this individual doesn’t realize is that not everyone would be allowed to carry a firearm, anyway. The student who would be able to carry a firearm on campus would have to possess a Georgia Weapons License under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) § 16-11-129. To obtain a GWL, the student must be 21 years old, which at a predominantly two year school is a small percentage of the student body. The GWL applicant is subjected to 3 different background checks, 1 state and 2 federal. Of these, the Georgia Crime Information Center and the National Crime Information Center checks are fingerprint based checks. In addition to that, the Probate judge of the license issuing jurisdiction may also check mental health, drug, or alcohol addiction records, which the Probate judge can deny the issuance of a GWL for. The background checks to obtain a GWL are far more extensive than to even purchase a firearm to begin with. Research done by various independent researchers and state agencies have found that individuals in Georgia with a valid weapons license are 5 times less likely to commit a violent crime than an individual who does not possess one. The fact is those Individuals with a Georgia Weapons License ARE safer and more responsible than the general population and because they would be carrying concealed, no one would know they are carrying to begin with.
SGA meets every other Wednesday at 5:00pm in the student courtroom on the third floor of the student center, and will meet every Wednesday in March. They are and always have been open to the entire campus. The vote on this issue was even delayed specifically so that the duly elected senators from each of the individual schools could consult with their constituents before voting. Saying SGA needs to focus on positive topics undermine the entire point of SGA. SGA focuses on ALL topics involving the students of ABAC simply because what is or isn’t “positive” is subjective.
If anyone has any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to come to our scheduled meetings or come meet with the SGA Executive Board members by coming to the Office of Student Leadership on the bottom floor of the student center during the day Monday through Thursday.