Sunday, January 31, 2016

Police Officer Escorted From Classroom at Darton State College © 2016 by Phillip Evans

Albany, GA WALB News 10 reported that a student who is a police officer that was in full uniform was escorted from a classroom at  Darton State College. 

The thorny issue that compelled the professor kick his student out was that he was armed with his duty pistol.

One might reasonably wonder why this made the professor uncomfortable:

1. The police officer being off-duty but still armed?
2. The police officer having a pistol in class?
3. The professor just gets the heebie jeebies at the sight of any firearm at all?

Regardless, all is supposed to be well and dandy with the professor now being straightened out on this "misunderstanding".

Interim Provost/VP for Academic & Student Affairs, Darton State College, Dr. Thomas Ormond has issued an apology:
"Darton State College is appreciative for the service of our law enforcement, and welcome them as students on our campus. We have apologized to the officer for our misunderstanding when he attended class on our campus, and we regret this happened. We have met with the faculty and staff involved to reiterate the Georgia Law and Darton Policy."

There are a few points I'd like to bring up:

1. Under Georgia state law, law-enforcement officers are exempt from any prohibition of weapons that might exist on school campuses per OCGA 16-11-130.

2. State preemption law regarding weapons was strengthened when HB 492 became law July 1st, 2015. This new law added school districts to the list of public entities that are forbidden to regulate the possession and carrying of weapons by any means, as this is a matter reserved to the General Assembly.

3. Kicking the officer out obviously violated point #2 above, especially since under point #1 above, the officer had the right to carry his firearm in class, and getting kicked out was certainly a means to regulate or prevent him from being armed in class.

It therefore appears that if the officer chose to sue for violation of his rights, he'd have an excellent chance to win. I personally don't believe he will sue. He is obviously a nice college kid - sorry, adult, who just wants to focus on his education.

Now that an apology has been issued, and it is clearly established that the officer may bring his gun to class, would he still be welcome there wearing street clothes? If so, he'd then look like your ordinary guy on the street who carries his holstered pistol in plain view. Sort of like me.

Should HB 859 become law this year, it would explicitly make it clear that any licensed-to-carry adult 21 and over may bring their pistol to class. 

Whether it is a sworn police officer or other licensed adult in class, that class would have a gun there possessed by a good guy/gal capable of repelling an armed criminal who's looking to murder multiple victims.

Campus Carry is exactly what is needed to keep students from being sitting ducks, who can only run and be shot in the back, or hide and be shot under a desk or table.

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