Guns and SEC football are back in the news yet again this offseason. And this one has the ACC riding shotgun as well.
In late March, the state of Arkansas legislature passed a law (House Bill 1249) that would allow concealed-carry handguns on publicly-owned property, which would’ve include college sporting events. A day later, and after realizing, amidst considerable controversy, the potential for alcohol-fueled fans attending an SEC football game armed, the state’s senate voted to amend the law to exclude college sporting events.
Fast-forward to this month, and the state of Georgia legislature has passed a law (House Bill 280) that would allow the carrying of concealed handguns on college campuses, with exceptions that include on-campus stadiums, arenas, gymnasiums and the like hosting intercollegiate sporting events. That bill is scheduled to become law in the state July 1.
In clarifying the language of the law, the university confirmed in an extensive press release Wednesday that individuals with valid weapons licenses will be permitted to conceal-carry outside of college football stadiums. In other words, licensed individuals would be permitted to carry concealed weapons outside of Sanford Stadium as well as Bobby Dodd Stadium as part of the game-day tailgating experience.
Only handguns are allowed under this law, and only when concealed. Long guns, obviously, are not permitted under any circumstance.
“I understand that many of you have strong feelings about this bill,” UGA Chancellor Steve Wrigley began his letter to the university community. “Yet, whether you opposed or supported the legislation, it will soon be state law, and I respectfully ask everyone to exercise patience, understanding and respect as we implement it.
“We all share the same goal of ensuring a safe campus environment. We should work together to implement the law as written and thoughtfully address any complications that may arise.”
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement amidst the Arkansas gun-law controversy that may or may not have had an impact on that state’s legislature tweaking of the bill. It bears watching whether the commish follows a similar public tack when it comes to this piece of legislation.
The Georgia Bulldogs will open their 2017 season at home against Appalachian State Sept. 2, while Georgia Tech’s home opener is Sept. 9 against Jacksonville State.