It is one of the most perplexing pieces of legislation I have seen in the Georgia General Assembly over the last couple of decades.
And that plows a lot of ground.
On Friday, the Georgia Senate passed a bill that would allow anyone 21 or older with a weapons license to carry a gun anywhere on a public college or university campus, except for inside dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses, and at athletic events.
Stop and think about that.
You legally can take a gun into a classroom or a one-on-one counseling session with an academic adviser. And someone thinks this is a good idea? Those who work on college campuses, including those here at Columbus State University, have lined up in opposition to this legislation.
It probably won’t matter. Now that it has passed the House and the Senate, all it needs to become law is Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature.
My reaction to this is framed by life experience.
As I think about this bill and the ensuing law, I go back nearly 35 years when I was a college student at what was then Troy State University. This is a true story — one I have rarely told because it had a profound impact on my life.
It happened in a fraternity house, and before you argue that guns won’t be allowed in fraternity houses under the Georgia law, tell me how you are going to allow them on other parts of a campus and keep them out of fraternity houses. You won’t. Don’t kid yourself.
During the summer quarter in 1982, a group of us were in the living room of the fraternity house when someone had the idea to go upstairs and play a prank on a brother who was in his room studying.
It turned out to be a terrible idea.
The brother, a good guy and a leader in the organization, was under great stress. No one really understood that at the time. He was about to graduate, and he was in his room preparing for a crucial job interview the next day.
A group of us went up the steps and started banging on his door. Again, this was good fun — or so we thought.
He told us to go away, and that only pushed us to get into his room.
It went on for a few minutes as a half dozen of us were banging on the wooden door. He warned us again to go away.
Then all hell broke loose. A shotgun blast splintered that door with all of us in various positions high and low around it.
It is an absolute miracle that no one was killed or injured that night.
No charges were filed, and like most things that happen in a fraternity house, we built a story to explain the unexplainable.
I never saw that brother again after that night. The next morning, he had packed his van and he was gone. Some of my friends saw him over the years and said he deeply regretted that moment in his life when he snapped.
There is no doubt in my mind he did. I have long regretted my role in it.
It was one of those stupid things that happens on a college campus where cooler heads don’t necessarily prevail and immaturity often wins over maturity.
There is a common-sense reason guns are banned from certain places. Columbus State University Faculty Senate Executive Officer Brian Tyo probably put it best in his reaction to the state Senate passing the law last week.
“Would they feel comfortable having guns in their press conferences or on the floor of the Senate?” Tyo asked.
The answer to that, if they were totally honest, is no.