As a brand new college president, G.P. “Bud” Peterson of Georgia Tech sat down with the AJC two years ago and talked about many issues, including why he opposes guns on his campus. He said mixing alcohol, guns and 20,000 students is a “terrible combination…I think it is a recipe for disaster.” (You can read the full interview here.)
He said the solution to campus crime was not guns, but more alert students, pointing to the pattern in most crime incidents involving Tech students: A 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.
Posted here to the blog, his comments set off the usual firestorm that accompanies any mention of restricting guns in Georgia. (I wrote about guns and gun laws for 12 years for the AJC editorial board, focusing on weapons in schools and on college campuses. I can vouch for the passion and anger around guns.)
Guns are again a topic on the Tech campus today, where campus Republicans are holding a rally at 11 a.m.
The Georgia Tech College Republicans will demonstrate on campus in partnership with Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, a pro-carry organization that has coordinated similar efforts at campuses around the country.
“We just had a robbery last night,” Andrés Celedón, chairman of the College Republicans, noted Monday. Celedón, a third-year student of public policy, said the goal of the effort is to even out the arms race between students and criminals. “It’s just really allowing kids a way to defend themselves.”
But university officials want to keep the current law, which prohibits civilians from carrying a gun on the campus of any Georgia college or university. Students cannot legally keep firearms in their dorm rooms, although legislators changed the law last year to allow them to keep guns under lock and key in their vehicles.
From year to year, Georgia lawmakers regularly entertain — and thus far have defeated — bills that would overturn the concealed-carry ban. That suits university administrators just fine.
“We believe that the safest environment is to prohibit firearms from being present in our classrooms, in our labs, in our dormitories and on our campuses,” said Tom Daniel, senior vice chancellor for external affairs for the University System of Georgia. There is no place for guns in a learning environment, he said, adding campus security is rightly entrusted with keeping students safe.
But gun rights advocates say that Georgia Tech students, subject this year to a string of robberies, burglaries and assaults, including one rape, many of them off-campus, need more than campus police. “They believe in law abiding citizens protecting themselves,” said Jason Stubbs, state director for Georgia Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, who will also be at today’s event.
–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog