ATLANTA (AP) — Gov. Nathan Deal could deal another major blow to conservatives in the Republican-dominated Legislature as lawmakers await his decision on another controversial piece of legislation: a bill to allow college and university students ages 21 and up to carry a concealed handgun on campus with a permit.
Rep. Buzz Brockway, a Republican from Lawrenceville, co-sponsored the bill, but said he did not want to predict which way the governor would lean.
Brockway also said he did not think the veto of the religious exemption bill earlier this week would weigh into Deal's decision.
"I don't think folks like retribution, or revenge in politics, so if he chooses to disagree, we will just roll up our sleeves and work harder," he said.
Brockway cited Deal's strong relationship with the Legislature, saying that even if the bill is vetoed, he does not see how it would have any impact on Deal's support from Republican lawmakers.
House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams said she could not speculate on a reaction from Deal's supporters on the right, but said the core group that lobbied for the bill would be impacted. She then said that the bill was not brought to the table by the entirety of the Republican base in the House, but by a smaller special interest group.
"I can say (Deal) raised some thoughtful and important concerns expressed both by House and Senate Democrats about the expansive nature of the legislation," said Abrams, D-Atlanta. "There is no urgency to the passage of this bill."
Jerry Henry, executive director of GeorgiaCarry.Org, has been a strong supporter of the bill. He said if Deal vetoes the measure, it will hurt his reputation as a champion of the Second Amendment.
"For 35 years, he has had an A-plus rating from NRA, and now he could veto a good gun bill," Henry said.
As with the religious exemption bill, Deal has also been pressured from outside groups to kill the measure. Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy group backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, says it will spend $25,000 on ads running Thursday through Monday in metro Atlanta.
Henry said the outcry is part of Bloomberg's efforts to fund anti-gun advocacy around the country.
"I don't think it's necessarily right to buy your rights away from you and if he is successful buying your Second Amendment rights, what rights will he go after next?" Henry said.
Another campus-related bill allowing students to carry electroshock weapons on campus is currently sitting on the governor's desk. Brockway was the primary sponsor of this bill, and said he believes the governor will view handguns and stun guns as two separate measures.
"The campus carry bill is a Second Amendment issue, and the stun gun bill, while related, is more about personal protection," Brockway said.
Deal has until May 3 to sign or veto the bill, or else it becomes law by default.