What is House Bill 859?
On April 25 music artist Michael Stipe penned a guest column in USA Today, "Michael Stipe: Governor, please veto this gun bill" in opposition to Georgia House Bill 859. Stipe's column was factually inaccurate. When the NRA contacted USA Today and requested equal space to set the record straight the request was denied. Additionally, USA Today declined to run a guest column with an opposing view from a Georgia campus carry advocate who was herself assaulted as a college student.
Below is a fact check on the inaccurate statements contained in Michael Stipe's USA Today column.
"This campus safety bill would simply allow law-abiding Georgians who hold a concealed weapons license to carry firearms on college campuses. Gun control advocates are painting a doom and gloom scenario of what will happen if Governor Deal signs the campus safety bill into law. It’s nothing more than a scare tactic to kill important campus safety legislation." – Catherine Mortensen, NRA Spokesperson.
NRA Fact Checker
CLAIM: "I worry about what it means when loaded guns are allowed at a tailgate where alcohol is being served."
FACT: Under Georgia law it is illegal to discharge a firearm either with a BAC of .08% or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent that it is unsafe.
When Utah began allowing students to carry a concealed firearm more than a decade ago, the campus experienced a drop in the rates of violent crime, forcible rapes, and aggravated assaults.
CLAIM: "I'm concerned for survivors of sexual assault, who may soon have to face an armed assailant at the time of the crime and again at their disciplinary hearing."
FACT: Criminals do not abide by the law. Criminals already bring guns to campus.
According to the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study one in five female college students is sexually assaulted. Women should be able to defend themselves.
Stories of women who were assaulted as college students and now advocate for campus carry laws:
— Kim Corban was sexually assaulted as a student at the University of Northern Colorado [Read Her Story Here]
— Amanda Collins was raped at gunpoint at the University of Nevada-Reno [Read Her Story Here]
— Liz Lazarus was assaulted while a student at Georgia Tech [Read Her Story Here]
CLAIM: "I'm worried about classrooms. If students are debating a contested subject – which is crucial to learning and expanding their world views – I worry what will happen to that open and honest conversation when the participants know that the people around them could have loaded guns in their backpacks."
FACT: Under HB 859, only law-abiding concealed weapons license holders will be able to lawfully carry on campus. By law, individuals must be at least 21-years old and have passed a background check.
As a group, concealed carry permit holders are among the nation's most law-abiding citizens. Florida has issued the most carry permits–nearly 2 million—but revoked only 168 (0.008 percent) due to gun crimes by permit-holders.
CLAIM: "Six of the major universities and university systems in the state estimated a combined cost of $56 million over six years to prepare for guns on campus. Cash strapped Georgia schools simply can’t afford this."
FACT: HB 859 does not require public colleges or universities to spend one cent to implement the new campus safety policy.
The only fiscal expenditure mentioned in the bill is the requirement that the public colleges and universities must post signage at all "public entertainment facilities" where the college or university CHOOSES to prohibit a trained, law-abiding citizen from possessing a firearm.
Threats to a person's safety don't end when they step on campus. Crime can happen anywhere and Americans want to be able to defend themselves.
Violent crime remains a problem in America, and police are not always able to respond in a timely way. According to the recent U.S. Department of Justice study, National Crime Victimization Survey (2014), during 2014, three million people experienced at least one violent victimization, 1.2 million people experienced at least one serious violent victimization, and 8% of all households experienced one or more property victimizations. As noted in a recent Oklahoma news story, it can “take up to half an hour to get a police officer to respond to a call.” (News9.com, Crescent Residents Upset About Police Response Times, March 25, 2016, at http://www.news9.com/story/31569999/crescent-residents-upset-about-police-response-times).
Restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms deprive the law-abiding of their ability to protect themselves and others with a firearm.
Since 1991, when the nation’s total violent crime rate hit an all-time high, 26 states have adopted Right-to-Carry laws, and the violent crime rate has declined by more than half, to a 43-year low, and the murder rate has declined to an all-time low.
Criminals are less likely to target someone who may be armed.
The public colleges and universities claim that they provide a “safe” campus environment, yet they readily admit that their untrained, unarmed security is not properly trained to confront any situation in which an individual possesses a firearm. If these schools are not providing a “safe” campus environment,that is all the more reason students should have the ability to provide for their own protection.
Eight states have provisions, either by legislation or court rulings, allowing the carrying of concealed weapons on public postsecondary campuses: Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. (Kansas law goes into effect July 2017. Oregon and Wisconsin law does not allow for carrying of firearms into campus buildings).