By now, I assume most of you are aware that Governor Deal has signed the campus carry law. As usual, you can’t count on the General Assembly to pass something coherently written, and there is already plenty of discussion about how the law will be applied and enforced.
In the law, one of the excluded places for concealed weapons includes “buildings or property used for athletic sporting events.”
But those eight words, written in line 26 of House Bill 280, could be interpreted in different ways.
One scenario has raised an interesting question for Georgia: Given the fact that up to 100,000 fans, if not more, partake in tailgating festivities many hours before kickoff, how will the law be interpreted on its campus for a Saturday football game?
Georgia’s athletics department is unclear whether this law will strictly mean that guns are disallowed inside venues such as Sanford Stadium or if they will be banned from all tailgating sites. The University System of Georgia and attorneys likely are still sorting out the best way to enact the new law.
Athletics director Greg McGarity was reached twice during the past five days since the signing of the law and said he isn’t sure of the details yet. The University System of Georgia Regents declined further comment on the topic.
Two of HB 280’s sponsors, Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton) and Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper), did not respond to requests to comment. Deal’s office didn’t respond to multiple requests for clarification on the language either.
An opponent of the law, Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta), said the phrasing is “100 percent unclear” and that it could wind up in litigation not too long after it goes into effect July 1.
“They use the term ‘athletic sporting events’ and ‘property used for athletic sporting events,’ ” Holcomb said. “One could definitely say, ‘Where people park is property used for athletic sporting events.’ Someone else could argue, ‘No, it’s just where the sporting event itself takes place.’ It’s not well constructed at all. It’s really poorly drafted.”
Lot of “no comment” there. Well, except for this dude.
Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), one of the six HB 280 sponsors, later said in a speech that Trammell was exaggerating his claim while stating a joke.
“Not everybody starts drinking corn liquor at 5 o’clock in the morning to go to the ballgame,” Powell said. “A lot of us quit doing that when we were in college. And then a lot of us learned there was something better than corn liquor, and it was called bonded whiskey.
I’m not worried about the folks drinking bonded whiskey, fella. It’s the people abusing Fireball and Natty Light who are more of a concern. Especially if they’re likely to mix with opposing fan bases after a long day of imbibing. Hey, maybe there’s something after all to be said for those noon starts.
Bottom line: choose your tailgating spot prudently.