As Forrest Gump once said, sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks.
The Georgia state legislature, after months of work and negotiations, finally passed a campus carry bill with broad support and sent it to the desk of Governor Nathan Deal. There’s not much to say up front beyond the fact that he broke out his pen and vetoed it. (Fox News)
Georgia’s Republican governor vetoed a bill Tuesday allowing concealed handguns on college campuses, rejecting the proposal that a legislature controlled by his own party had easily approved in an election year.
The bill would have allowed anyone 21 and over to carry a concealed handgun with the proper permit on a public college or university campus. The veto decision came weeks after Gov. Nathan Deal, who is in his second and final term, rejected a bill shielding opponents of gay marriage. That measure was backed by conservative groups but blasted by more than 500 Georgia companies as discriminatory.
As noted in the Fox News article, this seemingly out of character move came on the heels of his veto of a religious liberty bill. Now, I personally opposed that one myself (as I wrote here before) on the grounds of going too far beyond simply protecting the religious liberty of Christians, but it still surprised me when he vetoed that one as well.
So what explains this decision? As Blake Neff at the Daily Caller reminds us, Deal is citing a history of restraint in terms of gun laws.
“If the intent of HB 859 is to increase safety of students on college campuses, it is highly questionable that such would be the result,” Deal said in his veto message. “From the early days of our nation and state, colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed. To depart from such time-honored protections should require overwhelming justification. I do not find that such justification exists.”
If we were only talking about the religious liberty bill I could read something into this. Deal has no doubt observed the fallout from businesses in North Carolina and might have been looking to avoid a similar tempest. But a Second Amendment bill? History aside, this was clearly within the rights of the state to do and it’s been handled in a similar fashion in other states like Texas. What sort of blowback was Deal expecting from this? The other possibility is that we’re missing out on something under the covers but I’m not sure what it would be. Is Deal considering a run at national office or a possible cabinet position and attempting to move his image more toward the middle? While pretty much scandal free, Deal is 73 years old and you’d expect him to be in the sunset years of his career. (Of course, Bernie Sanders is the same age, but he’s more the exception that proves the rule.)
I’d love to close with a brilliant solution to the mystery here, but I don’t have anything. This bill should have been a slam dunk but the governor tossed it all on his own.