Photo by Casey Gomez

House Bill 280, commonly referred to as “campus carry,” went into effect on July 1, 2017. The state law applies to all University System of Georgia campuses, and is being enforced by the Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD) on campus. The law allows for licensed concealed carry permit holders to carry handguns on designated locations throughout campus.

In order to be sure that everyone on campus has been properly informed of the contents of the bill and how it might affect their lives and safety on campus, GTPD held a town hall-style meeting on Thursday, Aug. 24. After an informational session, attendees were encouraged to ask questions and voice their concerns.

The House Bill 280 is a “delicate” balance between the first and second amendment rights of individuals, as described by chief of GTPD, Robert Connolly. The bill provides that “a person carrying a weapon shall not be subject to detention for the sole purpose of investigating whether such person has a weapons carry license” (HB 60).

The session on Aug. 24 was largely attended by staff and faculty with questions and concerns. Another session will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 29 and will provide more resources for students
with questions.

Chief Connolly advised faculty and staff to not enforce the law.

“Leave it to us”, Connolly said.  “We’ve trained our officers all summer long to prepare for
the bill.”

He wanted students to be assured that GTPD has “been preparing for a worst-case situation [for years]” and have numerous precautions to keep campus, students and staff safe.

The law pertains only to handguns, which must be “carried in such a fashion that does not actively solicit the attention of others, and is not prominently, openly and intentionally displayed except for purposes of defense of self or others” (HB 280).

During the session, GTPD advised that if anyone suspects that someone is carrying a weapon in an unauthorized space to excuse yourself from the situation and contact them either by phone or through the LiveSafe app.

Persons with a concealed carry permit must be 21 years of age and, in the state of Georgia, have a clean bill of mental health for at least five years.

Permit holders from 31 other select states, including Florida and Alabama, still qualify to carry their handguns under this law, as long as they are over 21.

It is the responsibility of the concealed carry permit holder to be aware of the areas where weapons are not permitted, such as in preschool and childcare spaces; classrooms with registered high school students; student housing; areas used for intercollegiate sporting events (even when an event is not occurring); faculty, staff and administrative offices and rooms where disciplinary proceedings are being conducted. On Georgia Tech campus, this includes Bobby Dodd Stadium and the CRC, among others.

Concealed carry of handguns is allowed in tailgating areas, student recreation centers and similar facilities not used for sporting events, common areas such as hallways or areas adjacent but not within an office and classrooms where there are no high school students enrolled.