Michael Stipe has penned an op-ed asking Georgia governor Nathan Deal to veto a bill that would potentially allow students to carry guns into public university classrooms. In the op-ed written for USA Today, the former R.E.M. singer wrote, "For me, this battle hits close to home. I met my future R.E.M. bandmates when we were all students at the University of Georgia in Athens. It was there that we started playing together and performing and years later, several of us still call Athens home."
In March, the Georgia Senate passed House Bill 859, also known the "campus carry" bill, which would allow anyone 21 and over with a weapons license to carry firearms anywhere on public college or university campuses except dorm rooms, fraternity and sorority houses and sporting events. The legislation has since been awaiting Deal's signature to pass it into law.
"If the governor signs the bill on his desk, he’ll be going against the 78% of Georgians who say they oppose guns on campus, as well as a host of college administrators and prominent student and faculty organizations that have spoken out against the bill," Stipe wrote.
"For us and for so many others, college is this incredible moment when you get to make mistakes and learn from them. You start becoming an adult. You get to delve into what you love and get obsessed with it. You go to parties and drink too much. You fall asleep in the library and wake up hours before a paper is due. We all have our own versions of these stories. We all know the crazy things we did in college. Some moments we regret and others become the stories we tell time and again. Like many other Georgians, I am worried about how guns on campus would affect college life."
If House Bill 859 is signed into law, Georgia would become the ninth state to allow "campus carry," while another two dozen states allow individual campuses to decide their firearms policy, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. However, University of Georgia president Jere Morehead has already spoken out against the bill, as have student leaders at Georgia Tech.
"It's the students, faculty, and staff who live and work on college campuses who should get to decide something as important as whether or not to allow guns on campus. It’s their voices that should matter most," Stipe wrote. "I hope the governor listens to his constituents and does what's in the best interest of all citizens of Georgia by vetoing this dangerous bill."