If you are a fan of the Dawgs, or college football in general, you have seen that former UGA defensive back Malkom Parrish was arrested earlier this week for possessing a concealed weapon inside of the Ramsey Student Center. Specifically the allegations are that he had a concealed handgun inside of a backpack inside of Ramsey.
A couple of years ago Georgia passed a Campus Carry bill that went into effect on July 1, 2017. The law provided that people with a valid concealed carry permit may carry their concealed weapon in certain places on university campuses. There are restrictions, in that that the weapon must be a handgun and it must be mostly concealed at all times. And trust me, prosecutors will enforce this. I have represented those accused of having an otherwise legal rifle on campus (think deer rifle in backseat of truck or in trunk of a car).
Some areas are off limits for even permit holders. For instance:
- Student Housing (including fraternity and sorority houses)
- Classrooms where high school students are participating in the class
- Faculty, Staff, and Administrative Offices
- Sporting Event Venues
- Childcare Spaces
- Disciplinary Proceedings
The University System of Georgia released this video describing what locations this law applies to and those areas that don't. That particular video, again by produced by the University System, states that concealed weapons can be carried inside of student recreation areas that don't host intercollegiate events.
As a UGA graduate I am fully aware that Ramsey is used primarily for recreational activities and intracollegiate activities such as intramural sports. Ramsey, however, it also hosts intercollegiate events such as swim meets in the pool area of the massive facility.
So, to find out why Malkolm Parrish was arrested we must take a look at the exact language of the law. And address the layers one-by-one.
1. In general, the law prohibits weapons from being carried on campus.
2. There is an exception that permits concealed carry holders to carry handguns (in a concealed fashion) on campus.
3. That exception, however, only applies to certain portions of a college campus. There are many places that licensed carriers may not carry. O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127.1(c)(20)(A)(i) denotes one particular place on campus that the exception to the law does not apply. It states that no one, not even licensed carriers, may carry inside of buildings or property used for athletic sporting events or student housing, including, but not limited to, fraternity and sorority houses.
So, Mr. Parrish may have violated the campus carry in two distinct ways. 1) he may not have a concealed carry permit and 2) Ramsey is used for athletic sporting events. That is how he came to be charged with carrying a weapon in a school safety zone. I am certain that Mr. Parrish's attorney's will have good arguments about why this law was misleading and why the campus carry law should protect him from prosecution (like the video from the University System and the lack of general knowledge that the Ramsey Center is used for intercollegiate events).
The concealed carry permit is dangerous, in my opinion, for this very reason above all else. The general public hears "campus carry" and understandably believes that they may now carry on campus (as the name indicates). In reality the law is about six pages long and is much more complicated than many folks realize.
If a license holder violates this law they are guilty of a misdemeanor. If a non-licensed carrier violates they face a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
If you are considering availing yourself of the campus carry law you should consult with an attorney to ensure you comply with the law.