WTVM Editorial 5/6/17: Guns on campus

(WTVM) - Georgia Governor Nathan Deal just signed the so-called campus carry gun bill into law.

It takes effect July 1 and we think it has a chance to help deter some criminals and keep students safer than they may have been before.

The bill that Governor Deal signed into law makes sure the strict concealed carry permit rules for the public are also followed on campus.

To carry a gun, someone must be 21, be fingerprinted, photographed and have a background check performed. It won't be the Wild West.

That's because the bill specifically exempts many places guns can NOT be carried on campus, such as dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses, on-campus child care facilities, faculty and administrative offices and in disciplinary meetings.

Despite those exceptions, Georgia college campuses will no longer automatically be "gun free zones".

And that's significant because mass shooters almost always target known gun free zones like schools, churches and shopping centers where citizens are vulnerable, easy targets.

Most mass shooters think they'll have free reign to terrorize and kill the defenseless.

Police may be several minutes from being able to respond.

Sheltering in place works if you can effectively hide. But when you add the possibility that one of the shooter's intended victims may be armed themselves and thus able to defend him or herself or even defend the group, it may increase the chance of survival for all.

A citizen with a concealed carry permit stopped what could have been a mass shooting in 2012 in a Spartanburg, South Carolina church.

A man had entered the church with a shotgun, threatening to kill the pastor. Luckily, not a shot was fired in that incident. The armed citizen held the gunman at bay until police arrived.

Had the worshipper not been armed, the frightening incident might have been a mass shooting. There are many other examples of armed citizens stopping armed criminals.

But of course no law, not matter how strict or how lenient, can protect everyone in every mass shooting situation.

However, responsible gun owners who understand the stakes and are willing to do what's necessary if a shooter appears, give the innocent at least one advantage they wouldn't have otherwise: a fighting chance.

General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to hsteuart@wtvm.com or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee

1909 Wynnton Road

Columbus, GA 31906

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