Georgia Tech president: No guns on campus

G.P. “Bud” Peterson, president of Georgia Tech, sat down with writers at the AJC today and made clear that he did not support the pending legislation in the Georgia General Assembly to allow guns on college campuses. (We talked about other education issues that I will write about later.)

Under a bill in the House, Georgia gun owners with conceal carry permits could bring their guns everywhere except the courthouse and the jailhouse.  The restrictions on churches and campuses would be lifted. The bill was discussed Wednesday at a packed hearing. See the AJC story

Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson says "absolutely not" to guns on his campus in an interview Wednesday with the AJC

Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson says "absolutely not" to guns on his campus in an interview Wednesday with the AJC

“Absolutely not,” said Peterson, who was appointed as the 11th president of Georgia Tech in April after serving as chancellor at the University of Colorado at Boulder and provost at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. In addition, Peterson has held various positions at Texas A&M University and taught  mathematics, physics and chemistry in Kansas.

In other words, this man has been around students and on campuses all his life and he doesn’t believe that guns will better protect students.

But let him do the talking.

In responding to the argument that an armed student would have helped in the deadly shooting rampage at Virginia Tech, Peterson said, “I believe if a student had a gun, he would have gotten shot.” In the chaos of that horrible morning, police were looking for someone with a gun and did not have the time to figure out the good guys, said Peterson.

Speaking of Tech, Peterson said there were 20,000 young people at his university. Mixing alcohol, guns and 20,000 students is a “terrible combination…I think it is a recipe for disaster.”

Gesturing to his communications VP sitting next to him,  Peterson noted that Jim Fetig was former military. Along with Fetig, Peterson estimated there were probably 50 to 100 people on the Tech campus that he might wish had a gun someday if an incident occurred.

“But there are 19,900 that I would be praying didn’t have a gun,” he said.

As an engineer, Peterson understands probability and noted that there was a very tiny probability of such a deadly incident ever happening.

To those who would point to the spate of armed robberies of Tech students, Peterson said guns weren’t the solution.  More alert students were.

He noted that the robberies follow the same pattern: A male Tech student listening to his iPod is walking in the neighborhoods around the campus very late at night and is surprised by someone jumping out of car suddenly and demanding his iPod, cell phone, laptop and wallet. (Crime on campus is actually down, he says. It’s the surrounding area that poses the danger.)

The victims have largely been male students because females are aware of the risks in walking along at night and don’t do it, he said. “But the young men feel invincible, which is why we send 18-year-olds off to war,” Peterson said. “I am not trying to blame the victims but they aren’t being smart.”

Peterson had some help Wednesday from a student representative: According to the AJC report on the legislative hearing:

Alina Staskevicius, Georgia Tech’s student body president, warned that allowing guns onto college campuses could pose a risk to vulnerable students struggling with new relationships and overwhelming new atmospheres.

“It’s like throwing gasoline onto the already volatile atmosphere of a college campus,” she said. “The risk of an explosion is too high.”

189 comments Add your comment

DeKalb Conservative

January 20th, 2010
12:50 pm

Okay “Bud” I have an idea. Wear your suit and tie as shown in the pic around your campus at nightly for two weeks.

Saying the crime is down on campus is a b.s. excuse, especially when admitting that the surrounding areas pose the most danger, because so many Tech students live in the surrounding area slightly off campus.

Face it, this guy doesn’t care about the safety of the students. He also is obviously oblivious to how guns + alcohol = felony. Funny thing is people legally carrying guns tend to worry about such things as breaking the law.

DeKalb Conservative

January 20th, 2010
12:55 pm

It is official. If you’re a thug sitting pretty on an Impala on 20’s a Charger on 22’s, or an Escalade on 26’s, come on down to GA Tech, bring your gun, the students won’t be armed. Rumor has it there’s a ton of zombie male students walking around ready to give you their laptops, iPods and cell phones.

If you’re a female, you’re okay because a group of 2+ females together apparently trump displaced young thug w/ a gun. No robbery or sexual assault risk here.

DeKalb Conservative

January 20th, 2010
1:02 pm

WRONG ANSWER

Petterson – “I am not trying to blame the victims but they aren’t being smart.”

Any time the President of your school says the above is outrageous and you need to be scared for the personal safety of the students. Image that response to a girl who dressed a little provocative and was raped. That’s not leadership, that’s putting the criminals feelings above the safety of the students.

A leader would have said, ‘GA Tech is not a safe environment for a prospective criminal looking to commit a violent crime or armed robbery against GA Tech students. For too long criminals have preyed upon Tech students. I am doing blank, blank blank to ensure our students safety is the top priority.’

Pi$$onaDawg

January 20th, 2010
1:06 pm

I said ti before and I will say it again. I have to do LAB work late or whenever I can get the time and I live just off campus. I carry a gun. I walk on campus with my gun. I take my gun to my lab time. I walk off campus to my apartment with my gun. I will not attend TECH any longer if I can’t have my gun. If TECH and the APD can’t protect me then I sure as F… WILL PROTECT MYSELF. Next question Mr. President of Tech.

Yellow Jackette

January 20th, 2010
1:06 pm

I’d be willing to bet money has something to do with the fact that the victims are all male has to do with the ratio of guys to girls at Tech rather then the girls being more responsible. Also, GT sent out a crime alert last week where a home just off campus had been broken into while the students were home. Gunshots were heard and when the police arrived “All 6 occupants of the home were unharmed and 1 suspect was subdued”. Hmmmmm sounds like the suspects got what was coming to them. Good thing this wasn’t on campus or the students would have been SOL.

Sunny Daze

January 20th, 2010
1:06 pm

The area around G.T. is extremely dangerous and infested with the criminal element. No one would argue that fact. But turning teenaged students into cowboys definately isn’t the answer to combat the problem. In fact, I believe that would exasperate the situation. Some level of commonsense should be the rule of the day here.

Chip

January 20th, 2010
1:06 pm

“In responding to the argument that an armed student would have helped in the deadly shooting rampage at Virginia Tech, Peterson said, ‘I believe if a student had a gun, he would have gotten shot.’ In the chaos of that horrible morning, police were looking for someone with a gun and did not have the time to figure out the good guys, said Peterson.”

I have trouble making this a plausible scenario in my imagination. The police responded to classrooms long after the gunman had shot and killed students. A student with a gun who was in the process of responding to an active shooter would, at least in the Virginia Tech scenario, not have been a target for police as the police were not in the room while the shooter was killing unarmed students.

Tech Alum

January 20th, 2010
1:08 pm

As a Tech alum – and a yearly contributor to the Institute – I am extremely displeased to read Dr. Peterson’s take on this important issue. Regardless of the utility of an armed student body in the event of a Virginia Poly-style attack, no one – much less a publicly-employed state official – has any business promoting the curtailment of Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms. Why should the rights enshrined in the Second Amendment be any different than those in the First, Fourth, or Fourteenth? Of course, these are all other Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms regularly flaunted by those in charge of our institutions of higher education through the use of oppressive speech codes, searches of the person and residence of legal adults, and preferential treatment for politically-expedient groups.

What’s worse, Dr. Peterson inadvertently lands on an excellent point; we DO send 18 year olds to fight our wars. So, Dr. Peterson, these young people are trustworthy enough to be the defenders of freedom and liberty around the World, but they cannot be trusted when presented with both alcohol and weapons? Lest we incur the wrath of the modern prohibition movement (MADD and their associated ilk), we best not dwell on the notion of allowing those under the age of (insert arbitrary date here) ingesting such a dangerous substance as beer. This, interestingly, is one area where heads of many educational institutions have blundered into an appropriate stance; for those interested in further information, the Amethyst Initiative website is a must see: http://www.amethystinitiative.org/statement/

Dr. Peterson, I urge you to reconsider your position on the rights of your students. Georgia Tech has a long tradition of supporting individual rights and freedoms as well as avoiding the sway of popular campus sentiment; look no further than the creation of GTRI in response to the (silly and misguided) administrators at CalTech, Cal Berkeley, and MIT refusing further government contracts in order to appear in-tune with political sentiments of the day. I urge you, Dr. Peterson, support the rights and freedoms of your students.

Yellow Jackette

January 20th, 2010
1:08 pm

CORRECTION: I’d be willing to bet money that the fact that the victims are all male has something to do with the ratio of guys to girls at Tech rather then the girls being more responsible.
…. sorry I’m an engineer. I can’t write.

Pi$$onaDawg

January 20th, 2010
1:16 pm

SUNNY DAZE COMBAT is actually what it is! With the economic out looking bleak the criminals know there are fewer cops on the street. COPS don’t stop crime they just file a report after the crime has happened. I will continue to carry. No student is in fear of me and no student knows I carry. I can tell you for sure. If I get jumped by a BLACK THUG(yes I said Black because we all know it ain’t white thugs in the city) he will know I CARRY a Sigsaur 40mm. He will be riding on crome 40’s on his wheelchair or on the casket carrying him to HELL.

budman

January 20th, 2010
1:17 pm

Vietnam taught me a good lesson( and so did the boy scouts) BE PREPARED!! if you see me in the woods hiking I am always armed with my Glock. And now when I go into the jungles of SW Atlanta…Clayton County I am armed and will always be ready to defend myself and my wife. Learn how to use a weapon and how to store it away from small children. Protect yourself..to think that Atlanta police will protect me is a joke…when street thugs start getting what they deserve a taste of their own blood coming from their mouth, nose and a lot of other orifices they will stop and think maybe this guy has a weapon. I am non violent but I will not feel anything but the recoil of my weapon if I am attacked.If their was one armed student in class, the murders at Virginia Tech would never of happened. If you don’t have the stomach to fight stay at home lock the door and buy a big dog…

GT Student

January 20th, 2010
1:18 pm

In response to Sunny Daze’s comment about turning “teenaged students into cowboys”: The legal age for an individual to apply and receive a Georgia Firearms License is 21. Last time I checked, 21 does not fall into the “teenager” category. I go to Tech… I live off campus…. and there are times when I want my 1911 on my side while I am on or in the immediate vicinity of campus. But I’m unarmed because like everyone else with a GFL, I follow the law. Why prevent me from protecting myself when the criminals are going to ignore the law anyway?

Pi$$onaDawg

January 20th, 2010
1:21 pm

I made some spelling mistakes but Writing is not my jod either as stated by Yellow Jackette.

AWJ

January 20th, 2010
1:26 pm

OK Bud…..Where is all of the violence and chaos on college campuses that ALREADY allow ccw there, including the state of Colorado where you came from!!! Not sure where all that violence exists because it does not. Now I do know where a ton of violence and crime is happening and has been for a while. Guess where that is Bud: in your backyard on or he Tech campus!! It amazes me how some politicians and such think they a=have the right to deny an individual the right to protect themselves. Unbelievable!!!

budman

January 20th, 2010
1:27 pm

Right on guys…I’m an engineer and totally speling impaired……

Aero Jacket

January 20th, 2010
1:27 pm

Bud Peterson seems to forget that the ivory tower, oops, the Tech Tower and other faculty offices are 99% empty at 5 pm, leaving the Tech campus deserted at night with nothing but students, a thinly spread police force, and the criminals, who know that they have a large collection of unarmed targets. What I am hearing from Bud is that regular assaults on students are preferable to a potential misuse of a gun that might happen by a student who may or may not be drunk. He is willingly trading a frequent evil with one that may or may not occur in the future. I agree that there are plenty of idiot students walking around deaf to their surroundings and with no situational awareness, but there have been and are plenty of assaults on students regardless of whether they are plugged into an ipod. If the criminals thought that some percentage of the students had concealed carry permits, they might rethink Tech students as potential targets.

AWJ

January 20th, 2010
1:27 pm

near the Tech campus

GA Resident

January 20th, 2010
1:29 pm

Were the state to lift the law prohibiting sidearms on campus, nothing would preclude a college or university from enacting their own rules of conduct that would continue to prohibit sidearms on campus. The fact that the state makes the law and doesn’t leave it up to the individual institutions is a civil right violation of the 2nd Amendment – period.

The fallacious argument that students would be the primary carriers of sidearms is also patently ridiculous: in Georgia, an adult has to be 21 years of age to legally carry a sidearm, open or concealed. Mr. Peterson: How many of those 19,900 students you fear so badly are aged 21 or older? If they’re not, they are already breaking state law, and the law they are breaking will not change after SB308 or HB615 is passed into law this coming July.

Third: The arguments in this opinion piece (this is not a story) center around students. But understand that every employee -every professor, every faculty member, every staff person, every janitor, every bus driver, everyone- is precluded from carrying a sidearm while traveling on or within 1000-feet of a college/university/K-12 school campus in Georgia. But this shouldn’t be about carrying while a person is on campus; it’s my five-foot-tall, one hundred and nothing pound, 35-year old, non-faculty wife walking from the dark GSU parking garages that surround Grady Hospital to her office in the morning, and sometimes walking back after dark in the evening when she leaves to go home. Not the nicest section of town, and in the absence of any police presence (which there is none), it will be nice to know she could defend herself when the need arises.

This sensationalism of drunken 18-year olds, stumbling around in a stupor, waving a cup full of beer in one hand and a gun in the other is disingenuous to the process and really, the people against these bills and against the liberty they instill should be more responsible. They should know better.

William

January 20th, 2010
1:32 pm

I agree with Dr. Peterson, we do not need everyone on campus walking around with guns, and he is also somewhat correct about the students continuing to walk alone in the late night hours after being warned as well as actually knowing what goes on around there at night. Everyone walking around with a gun is not the answer, APD needs to have a stronger presence in the area along with Tech PD as well.

Brown Likker

January 20th, 2010
1:34 pm

Cutty

January 20th, 2010
1:36 pm

You people are so smart. Not! Arming students (those over 21 only) won’t solve the problem. You all are magically hoping for some John Wayne junior at Tech to come saving the day. Guns are readily available to anyone without a felony over 21 now, and it hasn’t deterred crime a bit. Criminals don’t know if you have a gun when they break in your house, or try robbing a student at Tech walking home. They take that chance anyway. Yeah, but the student would have a gun to defend himself you say. Then it’d probably be a loss of life or injury to both the student and the criminal, instead of just a loss of property.

Good decision by the Tech President. You’d hear about a Tech student shooting his girlfriend over a bad breakup before you’d hear the same guy defending himself walking home from class.

Its pretty simple, just be aware of your surroundings and use common sense.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by MONISE SEWARD, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Georgia Tech president: No way, now how to guns on campus. http://bit.ly/6RAldV [...]

92 Tech Alum

January 20th, 2010
1:40 pm

When I was at Tech I was a Resident Assistant in the Techwood Dorm, which was next to the Techwood Projects. (The dorm and projects were torn down for the Olympics).

Anyone complaining about crime now at Tech didn’t attend when one of the worst projects in the city was across the street. So I have no idea why crime at Tech is a much bigger media issue today, when it was much worse 17-18 years ago – when projects were all throughout the city.

And as a RA that had to enforce the rules, there’s no way I would agree to let some students handle guns on campus when on the weekends half the dudes are getting plastered and end up causing trouble/getting into fights.

That’s a non-starter. I never got mugged while living on campus and none of my did friends either. I just don’t think it’s worth the risk.

GT Alum, ISyE 92

Opus X

January 20th, 2010
1:40 pm

“Peterson said, “I believe if a student had a gun, he would have gotten shot.”

Uh…the student did get shot. Many of them did. He/she/they didn’t have a chance.

Common Sense

January 20th, 2010
1:40 pm

As a Tech alum who prides himself on having lots of common sense (and a beautiful wife) … I must say that I’m not surprised at all to hear the new Tech prez’s comments. There’s a reason why Tech alums and undergrads are stereotyped. They don’t have any common sense only book smarts. Dr. Peterson just reinforces that stereotype. Personal responsibility should be taught at the Institute as well as the Constitution.

P F

January 20th, 2010
1:42 pm

Again, the liberal “let gov’t protect you” garbage. Just like the former mayor said that the only people that should be allowed to carry guns in the ATL are police and the criminals. When will the media and these progressives get it that whenever any bill is presented containing a reference to conceal carry, it is referring to ONLY licensed individuals. You know, the ones who went through federal and state background checks. At least this author briefly mentions it. You will be amazed how the media and the naysayers make it sound as if everyone is going to be packing. Just remember, criminals do not follow the law. I also refuse to eat at Taco Mac. Their sign on no firearms turns me away. It is their right to forbid it, as it is my right to take my business elsewhere. And having recently graduated a few years ago from a local university, I did carry concealed to every class I went to. A pocket .380. I was not going to be a victim.

Ezra

January 20th, 2010
1:43 pm

When have you ever heard of an educator apply the 2nd ammendment. His option is socialist just like most educators.

Yes and poor William wants someone else look after him. How typical!

Pompano

January 20th, 2010
1:46 pm

Bud’s playing the liability game here. He’d rather have a 1000 Tech students get robbed & beaten off campus (no liability on the part of the University here) as opposed to risking an on-campus incident between two students where the school might be sued.

Like most things in life, this is about cash.

Sgt. Disappointed

January 20th, 2010
1:46 pm

“I am not trying to blame the victims but they aren’t being smart.”

This is a statement a person makes when they’ve given up looking for a solution, or the opportunity to do the right thing by addressing the actual problem, because it’s just too hard or complicated. It simply means, “I’m sorry that you’re going to be preyed upon for simply walking around outside, but that’s simply not a right you have any longer. Instead, that privilege has been granted to a bunch of animals that surround the institution and represent an incurable plague upon the city.”

Just to be clear, it means that it is absolutely your fault if you are robbed, because as a law-abiding citizen, you should not expect to retain possession of your belongings if you make the mistake of walking around outside when it’s dark. No, no, those things belong to some piece of garbage who simply decides, “Oh, hey, it’s night time — streets is mine, since society has apparently decided it’s their fault I’m such a piece of garbage.”

Way to lay down, prez. You sound like the kind of guy who apologizes to the burglar for not making your stuff easier to carry to the get-away car.

DeKalb Conservative

January 20th, 2010
1:50 pm

It would be nice if alot of the alumni from this blog could also communicate their thoughts to GA Tech.

Sunny Daze

January 20th, 2010
1:50 pm

Wow Mr. Pi$$, let’s talk combat and getting caught in a crossfire and several innocents getting killed by friendly fire. I’m a Vietnam era Vet and former police officer. Everybody packing does little to solve the problem- believe me. It’s a college campus not a housing project.

Why Does He Call Himself Bud

January 20th, 2010
1:56 pm

Hey Bud! I don’t care what you think, I’m packing. If you don’t like Constitutional rights or state law, quit taking federal and state money to support your trade school. You have the appearance of someone who would not like those oily, loud, smelly guns.

Alabama Jack

January 20th, 2010
2:03 pm

I graduated from Tech in 1968, worked in the Pershing Point area, lived in the dorms one year, over near City Hall east one year and married student housing two years. My job was at night and I regularly walked through Piedmont Park, down Ponce de Leon, and through campus between midnight and 5 AM. In 4 years there was one incident where I was braced by three dudes on Peachtree who had second thoughts after I didn’t fall over at their feet. They decided, I guess, to seek weaker prey – no weapons except my size and willingness to defend myself which they recognized. The only other incident stemmed from a domestic deal in Techwood Project which brought the APD Swat team to Burge to set up containment on a fugitive.

Yeah, times have changed, but………

BW

January 20th, 2010
2:08 pm

Lol…DeKalb Conservative…you’re a funny guy…it’s going to take a concerted effort…and more money…to provide adequate security for the campus and just off campus with a collaboration of the APD and Ga Tech police…how many ppl get tired up in their home in spite of having guns? Guns are not a panacea in all cases.

Wounded Warrior

January 20th, 2010
2:08 pm

Hey Bud. You just painted targets on all of the students that live off campus so that the 30 Deep gang thugs to go after them.

Pack some heat, and these thugs will go back to robbing blue jeans.

bud is a tool

January 20th, 2010
2:10 pm

bud is definitely not a leader

Sick&Tired

January 20th, 2010
2:16 pm

Thank God Bud has more sense than most. My daughter plans to attend GA Tech in the future and I’m glad to hear that the President of GA Tech is a smart guy.

Shannon, M.Div.

January 20th, 2010
2:20 pm

The president just affirmed existing policy. No “targets” were painted on anyone’s back.

Guns don’t have a place on a college campus. The human brain–specifically the parts related to understanding risk–isn’t fully developed until age 25. That’s reason enough to keep guns out of the hands of anyone younger. And for the record… yes, our military recruitment takes advantage of this. You think that means we ought to *spread* guns around teenagers? Are you really that brainwashed by faux-populist second amendment screamers?

OK

January 20th, 2010
2:20 pm

Many Tech students have guns but are much too smart to tell anyone.

Current Tech Student

January 20th, 2010
2:21 pm

Fortunately, Bud has absolutely nothing to do with the legislation since he’s not a legislator. Hopefully our elected officials will listen to their constituents and finally pass meaningful concealed carry reform to clarify the law in Georgia. Once they do, it doesn’t really matter whether Dr. Bud supports or doesn’t support the law. I am certain that he will abide by it.

DeKalb Conservative

January 20th, 2010
2:25 pm

@ BW

It won’t take much money. I estimate it’ll take about 20 – 30 cents. That is the price of a bullet that will kill a thug. Do that enough times an they’ll get the message, though some other posters rightfully point out they’ll likely migrate to other areas of the town.

If I am wrong and the 20 – 30 cents fail, it’ll likely get more expensive because you’ll have a thug in a wheelchair rolling around the city 1/2 paralyzed.

Either way, sounds like some social justice alot of crime victims can live with.

Flagboy?

January 20th, 2010
2:25 pm

My wrists are to limp to fire a gun anyway.

bart

January 20th, 2010
2:27 pm

Good God! What a bunch of cowboys we have in this state. This is not the wild west. We are supposedly a civilized society, and bringing guns to school and to church is the silliest thing I ever heard, and most people with common sense would agree, I think. Even in the wild west, they had to check their guns at the door of the saloon!

Buzz Belle

January 20th, 2010
2:28 pm

No way should college students pack guns. That is the most rideiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Every soldier in Vietnam had a gun and how many died? Would you send your daughter to Ga. Tech if you knew 20,000 students had guns? I didn’t think so!

DeKalb Conservative

January 20th, 2010
2:31 pm

@ Shannon, M.Div.

If you were a student walking around Tech at night, would you be more afraid of:
1. being robbed, possibly shot by a non Tech student
2. being rapped, possibly shot by a non Tech student
3. being shot by a drunk Tech student acting like a cowboy.

Uncle Commode

January 20th, 2010
2:31 pm

First of all Bud is a wanker. Second if this becomes law then buddy-boy will have no choice except to shut his mouth.

DeKalb Conservative

January 20th, 2010
2:32 pm

Sorry kids, but this situation is a ticking time bomb. Other than Bud, I think the biggest supporter to keep guns off the campus is likely Nancy Grace.

Just one young girl getting attacked could give Nancy Grace’s show months of content and interviews.

David Mebane

January 20th, 2010
2:33 pm

You gotta love gun nuts. Aggressive, ill-informed — some of the posts on this forum are the best argument for gun control you could think of.

chuck allison

January 20th, 2010
2:34 pm

As a Tech alumnus, I am disgusted and disappointed with Peterson’s position. He should have to walk alone to evening classes at Tech and be robbed at gunpoint. Students should have to get a special permit NOT to carry a gun. Peterson actually sounds like a yankee. Well, I guess he actually is.

DeKalb Conservative

January 20th, 2010
2:34 pm

@ David Mebane

How often are you alone in the Tech campus area at night?