Letters to the EditorNews

Keep Guns Off the UGA Campus

I am a Georgia boy who grew up in Macon, attended UGA twice then left my home state for Harvard Medical School and a 23-year career in emergency medicine. My wife Nancy and I have been back in dear old Athens for 10 years now. We live on Pulaski Street and enjoy our proximity to downtown and the UGA campus. We consider the campus a beautiful park of sorts.

I grew up handling firearms early in a family of men who loved the woods and hunting, and I have no interest in restricting anyone’s reasonable rights regarding firearm ownership, but I must urge you to aggressively oppose this bill. Calling it a “Campus Safety Act” is laughable. Adding that guns will not be allowed in dormitories, Greek houses and athletic events only extends the laughter. If I were a student, staff member, faculty member or visitor to UGA, passage of this bill would frighten me every day. If I were a bar owner or patron in Athens, it would scare the daylights out of me every night.

I saw a lot of gunshot wound victims in my ER career, self-inflicted and other-inflicted. One of the most pitiful was the 19-year-old late-night arrival who came in with a shattered left elbow joint.

“How did this happen?” I said.

“Well sir, I was practicing my .357 quick draw from my new shoulder holster, and I guess it just went off.”

Yep—it just went off.

And you know what? He wasn’t a bad kid. Just a 19-year-old boy, not yet grown into a man, with the incompletely developed judgement and impulse control that’s usually one of the fun things about being 19. I remember those days well and enjoyed them thoroughly. Fortunately, I didn’t wind up with a ruined elbow joint as a lifelong keepsake.

I love Athens, and I love the UGA campus. The two are lovingly and inextricably intertwined in my lucky life. Please do your best to prevent the foolhardy and potentially dangerous step this bill proposes.