Gov. Nathan Deal has vetoed the so-called ‘"campus carry" bill that would have allowed concealed weapons on Georgia’s public college and university campuses.
In a statement, Deal said he couldn't find a compelling need for the legislation to become law.
"From the early days of our nation and state, colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed," he wrote. "To depart from such time honored protections should require overwhelming justification. I do not find that such justification exists."
He also questioned whether such a measure would actually make students on the state's colleges and universities any safer.
The decision comes after weeks of speculation from pundits, questions about Deal’s intentions, and calls from some groups for the governor to veto the measure. Tuesday was the final day for Deal to either sign or veto the bill before it became law automatically.
The law would have allowed licensed gun owners to carry concealed handguns on public college campuses. However, it would have barred the weapons in athletics facilities or student housing, which includes fraternity and sorority houses.
The bill was heavily debated in the state legislature, though it eventually made it through both the House and Senate with relative ease.
Supporters argued the measure would simply extend Second Amendment rights to college and university campuses and said it would help students protect themselves. The bill gained the support of groups like the National Rifle Association.
Opponents, like the state Board of Regents, the President of the University of Georgia, and even R.E.M. front man Michael Stipe, said the bill would put students and teachers in harm’s way and would threaten an open and honest academic environment at state schools.
Once the bill made it through the legislature, Deal himself expressed concerns about how the measure would impact campus child-care centers and dually-enrolled high school students taking college courses.
He asked lawmakers to address those concerns, but the request got a chilly response. House Speaker David Ralston (R - Blue Ridge) said making such changes would gut the law.
Deal’s decision comes just a day after Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam let a similar measure become law without his signature, making his state the ninth in the country with a "campus carry" law.