Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have lifted a firearms ban on the state’s public college and university campuses, according to Atlanta news reports.
Tuesday was the deadline for Deal to either sign or veto the measure. He told reporters Monday he wouldn’t allow it to become effective without his signature, which is permitted under Georgia law.
Deal, a Republican in his final term, wanted lawmakers to pass follow-up legislation limiting access to on-campus day care centers and other spaces. But the GOP-controlled legislature didn't respond, saying the original bill was carefully considered.
Both supporters and opponents of the so-called "campus carry" bill have aggressively lobbied Deal.
Brenau University President Ed L. Schrader issued a statement in support of the governor’s decision.
"I sincerely appreciate Gov. Deal's courageous leadership, good common sense and serious concern for the welfare of all members of our college communities, students and staff,” he said. “I have been vocally opposed to this idea since the first time it reared its head several years ago.
“Along with every other college and university president in Georgia, I have continued to communicate that opposition to our legislators with every iteration of guns-on-campus legislation that has come up year after year in spite of overwhelming opposition by the people in this state. Some of the bills have had a direct impact on private colleges and universities, but all have deleterious consequences for higher education in Georgia and the rest of the United States.”
Schrader was among 350 college and university presidents signing an open letter to lawmakers in 2012 urging action to curb gun violence and reform gun safety laws.
"I was born and raised in Mississippi in a gun-owning and hunting family, and we shot things – just not people or bald eagles,” he said in his statement. “I believe that on a college campus, where students sometime receive grades the do not appreciate, classrooms and firearms are not a good mix. Also, social events common to most colleges, and sporting events where feelings and alcohol consumption run high, are not conducive to a highly armed population of party goers.
“There are many, many other reasons to oppose this kind of ill-conceived, unnecessary and potentially dangerous legislation. The one most compelling, however, is that time and again police and sheriff professionals comment that students with guns are much more likely to be shot than unarmed pedestrians, and they are often shot with their own guns taken away by a would-be robber."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.