New law allows for legal, concealed guns at Georgia tailgates

Under Georgia's new "campus carry" legislation, anyone who is properly licensed in the state of Georgia to carry a handgun in a concealed manner will be allowed to do so while partaking in on-campus tailgating activities.

University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley said in a news release Wednesday that while concealed weapons are prohibited from being taken into on-campus stadiums and arenas, concealed handguns will be allowed at tailgates.

Wrigley wrote that there are a number of exceptions to the new law, which is known as House Bill 280 and will go into effect on July 1, that will limit the places handguns can be carried on campus. One category includes "buildings and property used for athletic sporting events."

"This exception includes stadiums, gymnasiums and similar facilities in which intercollegiate games are staged (but does not extend to so-called 'tailgating' areas where fans may congregate outside the gates of the sports facility)," Wrigley wrote. "It does not extend to student recreation centers and similar facilities that are not used for intercollegiate games."

Current law allows license-holders to keep weapons secured in motor vehicles, but beginning July 1, House Bill 280 will allow "anyone who is properly licensed in the state of Georgia to carry a handgun in a concealed manner on property owned or leased by public colleges and universities." However, no other type of gun will be allowed to be carried around campus. Handguns also won't be allowed to be carried openly. The new bill does not apply to institution-sponsored events away from campus on property not owned or leased by a University System institution.

Although the bill provides for specific exceptions of where handguns may not go, it doesn't give individual institutions the ability to bar or limit handguns on their campuses. Schools cannot place additional "restrictions or prohibitions on the carrying of handguns beyond those contained in the law," Wrigley wrote. This will prohibit schools that see enormous tailgating numbers each week from nullifying the new law.

In March, an Arkansas House committee advanced a measure to exempt college sporting events from a state law that allows concealed handguns at colleges, government buildings, some bars and the State Capitol after Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey said the law created concerns for the conference and its member institutions.

"Given the intense atmosphere surrounding athletic events, adding weapons increases safety concerns and could negatively impact the intercollegiate athletics program at the University of Arkansas in several ways, including scheduling, officiating, recruiting and attendance," Sankey said in a statement in March.