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Campus Carry Meeting Transcript

We're good to go. Well thank you for your patience. Again today we're recording so that we could put online and have for those who cannot come to any of the town hall meetings.

If you have friends that want to come we're doing another round of town hall meetings in August and all that is on this website here. This website is UNG.edu/campuscarry.

We put this together for you for your convenience so that anyone and everyone can read it, know it, understand it and also be able to watch the video as well.

So for those who do not know me my name is Justin Gaines. I'm the chief of police here at the University of North Georgia and one of the things that I wanted to do is put together these programs for you to understand the law, ask questions, give your opinions. I want to hear them, but also understand that we have some ground rules too.

And the first ground rule is to just keep in mind that I did not write the law. I did not vote or the law or against the law. I have no opinion. I don't have the luxury of having an opinion because I'm a police officer. My sworn obligation is to enforce the law whatever that may be. And so now this is state law or will be July One so it is my sworn obligation to enforce this law.

It's also my job to teach you the law so that as members of our community you can be more productive in a way with which you have what we want which is voluntary compliance. It's the whole reason why we have laws and things like that is so that we can have voluntary compliance through those things for different reasons.

So we're going to have four sections to thisprogram. The first section is that I'm going to read to you the law because I feel that in order for you to understand it you need to start with the foundation. What are we talking about here? Where does this come from? What is the verbiage of it? And I will refer back to it with some of your questions.

The second section will be that I will read to you what is it your hands now which is the Chancellor's guidance and read to you what the Chancellor has written for us to apply within the enforcement of this law.

The third section is we're going to go through this website and at the bottom of this website we have all the questions that you've asked me since the Governor signed that have been vetted by our general counsel and the University System of Georgia's general counsel too.

So these answers aren't thus saith the chief of police at the University of North Georgia, it is all vetted through. Some of them are repeats they're just asked differently so you'll see a theme when we go through these.

Now section four will be the section with which you can ask me questions, but the ground rule is that I ask that you please hold your questions until we're there because I have found that if we don't do that then we go through chasing rabbit trails and you end up not getting what you need out of this program so if you'll refrain from that till the last section.

So we will start with the law. House bill 280 commonly known as campus carry legislation will take effect July 1. So this is the law and I'm going to start down on line 22 and I'm going to blow this up for you here so that you can ... see if I can do one more. I cannot. Okay.

This paragraph here - 20A - says Any weapons carry license holder when he or she is in any building or on real property owned by or leased to any public technical school, vocational school, college or university, or other public institution of post-secondary education, provided however that such exceptions shall:

You say so what in the world does that mean? Basically what that is saying is that you - if you have a weapons carry license - may carry a handgun on campus, however there are exceptions. That's basically the general gist of what that paragraph is telling you.

 So what are these exceptions? Does not apply to buildings or property used for athletic sporting events or student housing included but not limited to fraternity and sorority houses. Does not apply to any preschool or childcare space located within such buildings or real property. Does not apply to any room or space being used for classes related to a college and career academy or other specialized school as provided under Code Section 20-4-37. Does not apply to any room or space being used for classes in which high school students are enrolled through dual enrollment program included but not limited to classes related to MoveOn When Ready Act as provided under Code Section 20-2-161.3. Does not apply to the faculty, staff or administrative offices or rooms where disciplinary proceedings are conducted.

Those are the exceptions. It only applies to the carrying of handguns which a licensee is licensed to carry pursuant to subsection (e) of Code Section 16-11-126 and pursuant to Code Section 16-11-129. It only applies to the carrying of handguns which are concealed. All right. So if you violate this law and you have a weapons carry license this is the penalty: Any weapons carry license holder who carries a handgun in a manner or in a building, property, room, or space in violation of this paragraph shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, provided however that for a conviction of the first offense such weapons carry license holder shall be punished by fines of $25 and not be sentenced to serve any term of confinement.

As used in this paragraph, the term concealed - so here's your definition of concealed, because remember it must be concealed on campus. In Georgia this is the only place with which a person with a weapons carry license has to conceal their weapon.

Anywhere else they do not, but on a campus they do. So they gave us the definition of concealed. Means carried in such a fashion that does not actively solicit the attention of others and is not prominently, openly and intentionally displayed except for purposes of defense of self or others. Such term shall include, but not be limited to, carrying on one's person while such handgun is substantively but not necessarily completely covered by an article of clothing which is worn by such person, carrying within a bag of nondescript nature which is being carried about by such person, or carrying in any other fashion as to not be clearly discernible by the passive observationof others.

So what that means is if I'm carrying a handgun it cannot be openly displayed. So if I'm carrying that weapon on my hip as I am now and I have a sports coat, and all you see is the tip of the barrel, that's still concealed. If I take that jacket and pull it over and show it off to you, you all can see it, it's not concealed, okay.

Preschool or childcare spaces do not apply to UNG so we will fast forward for the sake of time. The last sentence of this bill says All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this act are repealed. They can't, the, the firearms laws in the state of Georgia are multiple laws - 16-11-126 to 130 - if any of those are in conflict with House Bill 280, then this supersedes that. Okay. But we'll get back to that second. So that is section 1. Thank you for not asking questions. It's a joke. [unintelligible]

So if you will pull out the Chancellor's guidance here and let's read this as well because this answers a lot of questions and fills in a lot of blanks, I think. The Chancellor says: House bill 280 commonly known as the 'campus carry' legislation, will take effect July 1. I understand that many of you have strong feelings about this bill yet whether you oppose or support 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.

Below are guidelines developed by the Office of Legal Affairs for the implementation of House Bill 280 that must be followed on all University System campuses beginning on July 1.

While current law already allows license holders to keep weapons secured in motor vehicles, 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 orleased by colleges and universities, with some exceptions explained below.

It will not allow any other type of gun to be carried around campus nor will it allow handguns to be carried openly. House Bill 280 does not apply, however, to institution-sponsored events or excursions away from campus on property not owned or leased by the University System institution. The statute defines concealed as 'carried in such a fashion that does not actively solicit the attention of others it is not prominently, opening and intentionally displayed except for the purpose of defense of self or others.'

A license holder therefore may carry a handgun while it is substantially ('but not necessarily completely') covered by an article of clothing he or she is wearing or contained within a bag ('of a nondescript nature') he or she is carrying, or in another similar manner that generally keeps it out of the view of others.

There are the number of exceptions to the law that limit the places on campus where handguns may be carried.

Even licensed holders may not carry a handgun into the following locations on college/university-owned or leased property:

Exception 1 is Buildings and property used for athletic sporting events. This exception include stadiums, gymnasiums and similar facilities in which intercollegiate games are staged (but does not extend to the so-called 'tailgating' areas where fans may congregate outside the gates of a sports facility.) It does not extend to student recreation centers and similar facilities that are not used for intercollegiate games. Student housing facilities including residence halls and similar buildings where students live such as fraternity and sorority houses.

(Note that any housing that is not on property owned or leased by the University System institution is not covered under House Bill 280.) Spaces - including any room, continuous collection of rooms or outdoor facility - that are used for preschool or childcare. In order to qualify, preschool and childcare spaces must have controlled access, (meaning access via personnel stationed at the door or electronic mechanism) limited to authorized people.

Rooms and other spaces during the time when they are being used for classes in which high school students are enrolled, whether through dual enrollment programs such as Move On When Ready, or through college and career academies or other specialized programs such as Early College. License-holders who want to carry handguns to class will need to visit the institution's registrar or other designated employee, who after verifying their enrollment status will tell them which of their classes, if any, have high school students enrolled.

Institutions shall not, however, keep any listing of those who inquire. Note also that the names of the high school students may not be revealed in accordance with applicable privacy laws. It is the responsibility of a license order to seek out this information and make themselves aware of which classrooms fall within this exception.

Faculty, staff and administrative offices. The exception includes offices and office suites occupied by faculty, staff and administrators but does not include more general public common areas outside of those areas.

Rooms during the time when they are being used for disciplinary proceedings of any kind, including those regarding students, faculty or staff. These would include any meeting or hearing that are part of the University System's or institution's sexual misconduct, student conduct, dispute resolution, grievance, appeals, or similar processes.

Under the new law it is a misdemeanor crime for a license holder to carry a handgun 'in a manner or in a building, property, room, or space in violation of' these provisions.

Doing so may be a violation of the institution's student Student Code of Conduct and personnel rules. It will be the responsibility of those license holders who to choose to carry handguns on campus to know the law and to understand where they can go while carrying. Institutions will not provide gun storage facilities or erect signs outside restricted areas.

Each institution will need to review its campus conduct and weapons policies to ensure that they comply with these changes to the law. While House Bill 280 provides for specific exceptions where handguns may not go, it does not give individual institutions discretion to bar or further limit handguns on their campuses. Institutions therefore may not place additional restrictions or prohibitions on the carrying of handguns beyond those contained in the law.

Neither should anyone else attempt to interfere with the ability of license holders to carry concealed handguns on campus. It is incumbent upon each of us to follow the law.

Students, faculty and staff should not attempt themselves to monitor or to enforce compliance of the statute by those who do carry handguns.

Only law enforcement personnel, including the University System's more than 800 POST certified officers, will be responsible for enforcing the law.

If others have concerns or questions they should contact your campus law enforcement department. In the coming weeks, the University System Office of Safety and Security will be providing training to campus law enforcement officers. Our mission remains unchanged before and after July 1.

Thank you for all that you do for the University System of Georgia.

Okay. So we've created a good foundation. You've heard the law, you now have read the guidance from the Chancellor. Now let's go through the questions given to me to answer for you. And then afterward if you still have questions, which I'm sure you will, I will do my best to answer them for you. So we broke this down into different categories and we'll go through the first category, which is the longest, on general information. Where can guns be carried? We've talked about this twice, but we'll go through it a third time. Any license holder may carry a gun when he or she is in any building or on real property owned or leased to any public technical school, vocational school, college or university, or other public institution ofpost-secondary education.

With the exceptions noted below, it is still a felony for an individual without a carry license to carry a gun on campus. Similarly, open carry, regardless of permit status, is still prohibited. Where can guns not be carried? We've talked about this twice, we'll go through it again. They cannot be carried on buildings or property used for athletic sporting events or student housing including but not limited to fraternity or sorority houses. What this means is ...

We'll stop here for just a second. In Dahlonega we have our basketball games in Memorial Gym. In Memorial Gym, there's an intercollegiate game that is held there during that year. That building, for the rest of the year, is off-limits to carry a handgun at any time. The game does not have to be played at that time and this does not apply only to the gym. It applies to the whole building. So if you have a class in that building and there is no game it's still off-limits to carry, per the law. Same thing with student housing. You cannot carry in the building itself.

Some thought, well maybe it's just the rooms with which the student resides.No. It's the whole building, the envelope of the building. You can't carry at any time.

Any preschool or childcare space located within such buildings or real property. Any room or space being used for classes related to a college and career academy or other specialized school. We do not have these two pieces here so these two do not apply to UNG.

Any room or space during the times when they are being used for classes in which high school students are enrolled, either through dual enrollment programs such as Move On When Ready Act, provided under Code section 20-2-161.3. Or a college and career academy or other specialized school as provided under Code section 20-4-37.We'll go into that in a little bit more detail later because I know there were questions with that.

Faculty, staff or administrative offices. Any office that is a faculty, staff or administrative office, it's off-limits. Rooms during the time when they're being used to conduct disciplinary proceedings of any kind including those related to students, faculty or staff. So say for example, if there were to be a disciplinary proceeding held in the conference room, while that disciplinary proceeding is being held that conference room is off-limits to carry a weapon.

Now once the disciplinary proceeding has finished and another meeting comes through, that is considered a common space and someone can carry a weapon into that conference room. Okay.

Can license holders carry concealed handguns in laboratories on campus? Yes. They can. House Bill 280 sets out specific exceptions - exempted areas in which license holder may not carry handguns and laboratories are not one of the exceptions. Handguns would only be prohibited in a laboratory if the particular space were to fall within one of the specific exceptions. One of those specific exemptions would be if there were a Move On When Ready student. That would be the only time with which you would not be able to carry.

Can license  holders carry concealed handguns in summer camps on campus? Yes. Summer camps are not set out as an exception to the ability to carry concealed handguns on campus in House Bill 280. Handguns are prohibited, however, in childcare spaces which include programs for children under 18 years of age that are located within an enclosed space behind controlled access point and access via personnel stationed at the door or an electronic mechanism limited to authorized people.

Can license holders carry concealed handguns in health centers and exam rooms on campus? Yes. Health centers and their examination rooms are not specifically exempted from the general rule that license holders may carry concealed handguns on campus. Handguns are only prohibited in those areas of the health center that fall within the specific exception in House Bill 280 such as a faculty or administrative office.

What weapons are still prohibited from carrying onto campus? Do you remember me telling you at the very end of the law that all other pieces of this law that are in contradiction of House Bill 280 are repealed? This is where that comes into play, because the definition of weapon means it includes any pistol, revolver or any weapon designed or intended to propel a missile of any kind. Now at this point that is accepted, that is allowed but you are still not allowed to carry any dirk, bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, any other knife having a blade of two or more inches -- straightedge razor, razor blades, broomstick, knuckles, nunchucks, bludgeoning device, etc. etc. Those are still against the law.

What do I do if I have a concealed carry permit and want to carry a weapon on campus? There's a theme here. If you have a carry permit and you want to carry on campus it is your responsibility to choose to carry a handgun on campus and to know the law and to understand where to go while carrying. According to the USG guidance, students who are license holders who want to carry handguns to class will need to visit the institution's registrar or other designated employee, who after verifying their enrollment status will tell them of their classes if any have high school students enrolled. The general consensus with this is that it is the carrier's responsibility to comply with law. Is basically what that's saying.

Are handguns prohibited from athletic sporting event facilities at all times or only during the event? We talked about this a little earlier, but I'll read it again. Handguns are prohibited in buildings or a property that are used for intercollegiate games at all times, not just during the events.

Similarly, handguns are prohibited throughout the entire facility not just not just those specific areas of the facility which games are played. The same is true of student housing facilities. Handguns are prohibited throughout the facility not only in the specific areas where students reside.

Will the University post signage?

The USG guidance indicates that signage is not to be posted. It is the responsibility of the license holder who choose to carry handguns on campus to know the law and to understand where they can go while carrying.

What do I do if I have questions about where I can carry? Contact me. My email address is here. You may also contact general counsel Jenna Coleman or both of us, whichever you choose.

Can cadets carry personal weapons on campus? No, while in uniform. So this is a policy issue, not a law issue. The United States Army has a policy saying that when a cadet is in uniform they may not carry a personal handgun or a personal weapon while in uniform. They may still carry their issued rifle while in uniform, but not a personal handgun. Again, a policy issue, not a law issue.

Can we ask students or visitors if they are carrying and if so do they have to legally answer? According to USG guidance on the campus carry: Students, faculty and staff should not attempt to, attempt themselves the monitor or to enforce compliance for the statute by those who carry handguns. And the person does not have to answer the question, either. Chancellor also wrote on here that we did not put down, the very last page: Students, faculty and staff should not attempt themselves to monitor or to enforce compliance statute by those who do carry handguns. It's pretty clear with that.

Can non-law enforcement personnel inquire about whether an individual has a license? No, according the USG guidance on the campus carry: Students faculty, and staff should not attempt themselves to monitor or to enforce compliance with the statute by those who do carry handguns.

What should I do if I see someone on campus with a handgun or another weapon? Call the University Police. Again, it's supposed to be concealed. If you see it, and it's not concealed, then we need to know. USG advises, guidance advises that students, faculty and staff should not attempt themselves to monitor or enforce compliance of the statute by those handling guns.

And so that is basically saying don't handle that or don't deal with that on your own, call us and let use know so that we can deal with that on our level.

Can students switch classes if they feel threatened because of a fellow student in one of their classes is carrying a gun? Only if during the add/drop period and only if space is available may students change a class. Students should adjust schedules using the Nighthawk registration system.

Will there be training provided for us? Yes. Training will be provided for you. The University Police provides the emergency action plan training every semester; we put this out on email for faculty, staff and students. We are also working on a canned program for faculty and staff to understand and know how to defuse situations with which you have an irate person. What are some tips and tricks that you can do to calm that situation down, to keep yourself safe, to let us know in a safe way if you need to. That program will be at a requested basis, so if you want that, let me know and we will provide it for you.

House bill, does House Bill 280 apply to off-campus field trips or work trips? It does not. House Bill 280 only applies in any building or on real property owned by or leased to any public college or university or other public institution of post-secondary education. When students, faculty or staff leave campus for the school-related activities they will be covered by the weapons laws that apply to their off-campus locations.

Does House bill 280 apply to property owned by USG institutions outside of Georgia? No. House Bill 280 only applies within the state of Georgia; people at locations that are owned by or leased by USG colleges and universities but lie outside of Georgia will be governed by the applicable laws of the city, county state, and/or country in which the facility lies. Facilities lie. If USG institutions will not be providing storage lockers, where can a license holder store their handguns while they go to places on campus where handguns are prohibited? Here's the theme still - it is the responsibility of those who choose to carry handguns on campus to make arrangements for the proper and safe storage of those weapons.

Current law already allows for the securing of guns in parked cars. License holders can also make arrangements for storage of handguns off-campus.

Okay, section two, we'll go through guidance on related to dual enrollment students. Does the law prohibit firearms anywhere a dual-enrollment student may be present? No. It applies only to therooms and other spaces during the time when they're being used for classes in which high school students are enrolled, whether through dual enrollment, in programs such as Move On When Ready or through college and career academies or other specialized programs such as Early College. It does not apply to general areas such as the library, student centers, or dining areas.

And it does not apply to the hallways so you can have dual enrollment student in a classroom, person with a weapon in the hallway, that's perfectly appropriate because it's a common space. Should faculty attempt to enforce the statute in classes where dual enrollment students may be present? No. The burden is on the license holder to determine where they can lawfully carry and they must present their schedule to the registrar or designated individual to know if there are any dual enrollment students in any of their courses.

Faculty members should not indicate or identify any dual enrollment students in their course. We don't want to single anybody out, that's the reason why the Chancellor does not want that to happen.

What happens if there are no dual enrollment students in the class when the license holder asks but the dual enrollment student enrolls later, i.e. during the drop/add period? It is always and will always be the responsibility of the license holder who chooses to carry handgun on campus to know the law and to understand where they can go while carrying.

Now, with that said, what I recommend doing is if someone wishes to carry a weapon in their classes and they check on a Monday of a Monday through Friday add/drop, my suggestion is you go each time you have that class to make certain that no one added it after you checked the first time. It will always be the burden of the license holder to comply with the law. Now after add/drop, it's fine but during that time it could happen, somebody could go on Monday, say you're good to go and on Tuesday a Move On When Ready student enroll and that person end up being in violation of the law. The burden still sits with the carry holder.

Can faculty members and students other than license holders ask the Registrar whether a high school student, high school students are enrolled in a class?

Yes. They can and one thing that is being worked on I know Kennesaw, I think Kennesaw State did this, they worked on their banner to where if there was a class that a person was enrolled in or a dual enrollment student was at, it would put like a star or an indication to say hey this class, and that way the person's not having to go to the Registrar multiple times. So we're working with our registrar on that and trying to get that functionality here. I can't promise it. We are working on that to make it a little bit more user-friendly to try to figure these things out and to reduce the workload of our registrar.

Enforcement information: Who will enforce the violation of this law? University Police will enforce the violation of the law. The USG guidance states that: Students, faculty and staff should not attempt themselves to monitor or to enforce compliance for the statute of those who do carry handguns.

Will police require registration of license holders? No. According to USG guidance on the campus carry, the law does not give individual institutions discretion to bar or further limit handguns on their campuses.

Will the license holder have to have training to carry on campus? No. The current state law does not require a license holder to complete training to receive a permit.

Can the University impose extra training requirements not established by state law?

No. According to USG guidance on the campus carry,the law does not give individual institutions discretion to bar orfurther limit hand guns on their campus.

What are the repercussions if a concealed carry license holder leaves their weapon unattended? They will have violated the law and the appropriate law enforcement action will be taken. There are other laws that will be violated as well. A weapon is a dangerous device and if someone gets that, then it's not a good thing.

Will the University impose other penalties? Individuals who violate the law may also be subject to penalties under the student code of conduct as well as personnel rules as well.

If a student or employee violates the provision of House bill 280, may the institution treat that conduct

as a violation of the Student Code of conduct or personnel rules? This is a repeat question but yes the immediate situation should be handled by law enforcement but afterward the conduct may be treated as a violation of the Student Code of Conduct and or personnel rules. That process should then be handled in the same manner as any other student or employee misconduct case would be handled.

Keep in mind this is not the only law that people break that we deal with on a student or faculty/staff basis. This is not new to us with regard to this. It's just the law itself is new.

Okay section with faculty and staff information. We're almost through. Almost through and then I'll get your questions.

Given that students may carry weapons into our classrooms will faculty have the power to set rules about acceptable behavior with firearms and the consequences of unacceptable behavior with firearms?

No. According to the USG guidance on the campus carry, the law does not give individual institutions discretion to bar or further limit handguns on their campuses.

May faculty members provide information about House Bill 280 in their course syllabi? Yes. Faculty members can provide the information about linking to the USG guidance and it is listed here for your convenience.

Are faculty are allowed to announce that someone in their classroom might be armed? No. According to the USG guidance on campus carry, the law does not give individual institutions discretion to bar or further limit handguns on their campuses.

Are faculty members responsible for announcing to their class that guns are or are not prohibited because high school students are or are not enrolled? No. It is the responsibility of those who carry handguns on campus to make themselves aware of where to when they can do so. They can learn which of their classes include high school students by asking the Registrar, asking faculty members, and their classmates. In fact, the USG does not recommend that faculty members make announcements in class because it may lead to confusion among students resulting from inconsistencies between different professors in different classes.

Can faculty members ask students to identify themselves if they are carrying handguns or ask students who carry handguns to take a different class? We've answered this before, but we'll go through it again The answer is no. State law grants license holders the ability to carry handguns to public college and university classes except those in which high school students are enrolled and faculty members may not ask license holders to reveal that they are carrying concealed handguns or in any way discourage them from doing what they are legally allowed to do.

Can faculty or staff ask students to leave their book bags or other large bags outside of their classrooms or offices? No. According to the USG guidance on the campus carry, the law does not not give individual institutions discretion to bar or further limit handguns on their campuses.

Will faculty or staff be able to ask a gun carrier to leave their gun in their car if they're emotionally distraught? The answer's no. According to the USG guidance on campus carry, the law does not give individual institutions discretion to bar or further limit handguns on their campuses.

In any situation if you have concerns about anyone who is emotionally distraught, potentially harming themselves or others, contact university police. If you got to that level give us a call.

Are faculty mandated reporters for violations of the law? No. However, any concerns about suspicious or unlawful behavior should be reported to University Police. Y'all do a great job with that, you really do. Y'all let us know.

I think that's one of the reasons why we are historically the safest campus in Georgia, is because we have such a great community that let us know when someone's breaking the law, whatever that law may be.

Could you go back up to the one above that one, please. I was writing something down and I missed it. This one? Yes.

Will faculty or staff be able to ask a gun carrier to leave their gun in their car if they are emotionally distraught? The answer's no. okay okay I just didn't catch it. Yep. Okay.

Okay. Last question: Should supervisors conduct additional training for their staff? We recommend that supervisors guide their employees to this website here, again this recording will be online for anyone to see. And if additional resources are needed please contact me, I'm more than happy to sit down and talk and also go through your work area to answer specific questions - to your work area.

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