ST. SIMONS ISLAND — This fall, fans will be able to take their guns to tailgates at UGA football games. And it’s possible that guns could be legally carried at places like the football team’s locker room.
School president Jere Morehead doesn’t like the law, but he’s resigned to it now that Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed the campus carry legislations.
“My concerns about campus carry have been well-articulated over the last several years,” Morehead said. “But we’ve got a law that’s now in place and we’re going to do our best to fully comply with the law and make sure it’s done in a safe and careful manner, and that’s our focus right now.”
The revised campus carry legislation that Deal signed still prohibits guns from being carried in many areas of campus: Athletic events, dorms, faculty and administrative offices. But tailgating is not covered, the University System of Georgia has confirmed.
Morehead was asked what steps can be taken to keep tailgates safe. The mix of guns, emotions and imbibing does not seem a good one, it was pointed out to Morehead.
“Well, you’re making the assumption that people in the past: a) haven’t had a gun in their car, or b) in the future will have one,” Morehead said. “I’m hoping that people will come to campus and go to athletic events and they won’t have that on their mind. I don’t know that they have in the past and I would hope they don’t in the future. But regardless of that we’re going to comply with the law and do what we’ve been directed to do.”
Since guns are still not allowed into the stadium itself, Morehead said he hoped that “would discourage people from changing their previous practices in that regard.”
Tailgating isn’t the only issue of concern. Classrooms are not covered, which is why UGA faculty members have been up in arms over the legislation, and Morehead as well.
Georgia athletes, obviously, attend classes on campus. It’s also not clear whether campus carry allows guns to be carried in other areas frequented by athletes. Are locker rooms on or off limits?
“We’ve got to define in our building what areas are and are not,” athletics director Greg McGarity said. “We’re just not there yet.”
Morehead said the process is underway now to train law enforcement on how to deal with the new law.
“The law has been adopted and we’ve got to operate within that framework,” Morehead said. “But do so in a way that allows us to all move forward and to not get too bogged down with what if questions. But to continue to operate the university in a thoughtful and careful way. And that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”