Georgia Southern students, professors react to proposed campus carry bill

STATESBORO, GA (WTOC) - For the second year, Georgia lawmakers are debating on whether or not to allow gun owners to carry on college campuses.

This year's bill includes some changes from last year, but the pill has polarized sides on campuses around the state. Georgia Southern University does not have an official position, deferring to the University System of Georgia's statement in support of current state law, but much of the campus population has an opinion. The debate remains as fervent this time around as it was a year ago. Most students have formed an opinion one way or the other. Zach Carter believes the presence of legal gun carriers could help deter campus shootings, where the current ban doesn't phase criminals.

"If somebody's going to come and commit a mass shooting, they're going to come and do it, regardless of whether there's a bill or not," the GSU student said.

Michelle Haberland has rallied other professors in the state to oppose the bill. She doesn't put much stock in campus citizens stopping any violence.

"If you look at the Gabby Gifford case, there were people in the crowd that had firearms but couldn't draw them fast enough to make a decision and make a difference," said Professor Haberland, GSU Faculty.

She worries that young people and their impulses could become more violent with the presence of guns, but Zach disagrees.

"I don't see that many fist fights on campus, and if you think about it, that's a weapon too," he said.

Haberland worries about another emotional impulse seen in college-aged students as well.

"When you attempt suicide with pills, we can pump your stomach. If you blow your face off, we can't save you," she said.

Lawmakers added concessions to this year's bill to exclude certain places on campus. Both sides are waiting to see if those make a difference to a governor who has already vetoed the idea once.

If the bill passes in time, it must once again go to Governor Deal's desk.

Copyright 2017 WTOC. All rights reserved.