Georgia students allowed to carry Tasers, stun guns on public college campuses

Syca Johnson showing News 3's Courtney Cole how her taser works.

Savannah, Ga. – For many of your kids going off to college in the next few weeks, this will be their first time living away from home.

And as parents, you aren’t the only ones concerned for their safety.

Thanks to a new bill signed by Governor Nathan Deal on July 1st, your kids will have a way to legally protect themselves on campus this fall.

Thanks to House Bill 792, don’t be shocked if you see students with stun guns and Tasers on campus this year.

Governor Nathan Deal signed the bill into law on July 1, 2016.

It allows students to have an electroshock weapon, (i.e. a Taser or a stun gun), on any public college and university campus in the state of Georgia.

One of those is Savannah State University.

And student Syca Johnson says carrying a Taser helps her feel more secure, especially in the evening when the campus-area becomes more lively.

“Some of the things that have kind of been going on on-campus at night and some things that happened to some girls a while ago—just kind of feeling like I should always have some type of protection without going over and having…like a gun,” Johnson told News 3.

Johnson says she’s never had to use her Taser, but still doesn’t leave the house without it.

“It’s almost like, I kind of feel like I have that extra body there to kind of protect. So I know if anything happens, just reach in my purse and there it is.”

The extra bit of protection is also comforting to her mom as well.

“She definitely encouraged it, and was happy when I got one,” said Johnson.

Johnson believes it will help make campuses safer if students use them properly.

“I just really hope and pray that no one takes advantage of them allowing us to have them now.”

News 3 spoke to Savannah State University and Armstrong State University Police Departments.

The Chief of Public Safety of Savannah State University released this statement:

“The Savannah State University Public Safety Department has been working with University System of Georgia personnel to prepare for implementation of House Bill 792, which allows the use of electroshock devices at all public post-secondary institutions in the state of Georgia in the defense of self or others. The campus community has been informed of the new provision, and officers are prepared to uphold the state law. Once the new academic year begins, the Public Safety Department will conduct informational and/or training sessions for faculty, staff and students.”

— James Barnwell, Savannah State University Chief of Public Safety

 

The Chief of Police of Armstrong State University told News 3 they’re also prepared to support the law by holding hosting information sessions and training sessions for faculty, students and staff:

“One of the things we are going to do is reach out to our students and faculty and staff. In fact, we’ve  already started the process of making them aware of where they can get more information, so they can be more informed. We’ll be reaching out in multiple mediums, including social media, to make the community aware and pointing them in the right direction.”

–Wayne Willcox, MSCJ, CLEE, Armstrong State University Chief of Police

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