Nathan Deal’s opposition to Georgia ‘campus carry’ bill seems to harden

Gov. Nathan Deal. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Gov. Nathan Deal. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Fresh off a veto of legislation that would legalize firearms on college campuses, Gov. Nathan Deal’s opposition to a revival of the “campus carry” legislation seems to have hardened.

Deal vetoed the legislation last week after lawmakers refused his request to carve out exceptions to the proposal that would allow permit-holders over 21 to carry a concealed weapon onto most places on campus.

Six days after the veto, though, he made no mention of adding caveats into the legislation, and instead he questioned why it was needed in the first place. He quickly invoked the more than two centuries since the University of Georgia was chartered.

“I suppose the most obvious question is why since 1785, when we’ve been through major wars, conflicts and upheavals in this country and in the world, why all of the sudden in 2016 do we need weapons in the hands of college students where they have historically never been allowed,” Deal said. “Nobody has answered that question satisfactorily for me. That’s probably the biggest reason.”

He was then asked about whether he was concerned about a legislative backlash to his vetoes of the campus gun legislation and “religious liberty” bill – state Rep. Kevin Cooke’s scathing critique was mentioned as an example – would force him to scale back his far-reaching plan to overhaul the state’s education system.

“Not at all,” he said, shifting his focus to Cooke.

Said Deal:

Rep. Kevin Cooke, R - Carrollton. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Rep. Kevin Cooke, R – Carrollton. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

“Some people want to have their own self-importance. Kevin Cooke has never been in my office, by the way. … If he had a problem with anything I have done, he should have talked to me. He did not. That’s up to him to justify to his constituents. I’ve heard from a lot of his constituents who are very upset over the remarks he made. I had apologies issued from many people in that area …”

And then he previewed the argument he’ll likely make over the next two years to press his case that the decades-old education funding formula needs a rewrite.

“If they disagree with me, they have several options. They can reintroduce the legislation. They can override my veto,” Deal said. “But more importantly, I hope they will focus on other issues that are important to this state. And education reform is one of those.”

He added: “Somebody who can’t set aside their differences of opinion on one piece of legislation to focus on the importance of another piece of legislation deserves to have to explain that to their constituents.”

Read more about why the vetoes could be a turning point for Deal here.


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