Republican-led legislatures in North Carolina, Mississippi, and Tennessee recently approved “religious liberty” bills intended to make discrimination against LGBT residents easier. Georgia was set to join this club, but Gov. Nathan Deal (R) vetoed his own party’s bill in March, citing the potential of adverse economic consequences.
Yesterday, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Georgia’s Republican governor, to the surprise of many, used his veto pen to disappoint his ostensible allies once more.
Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed legislation Tuesday that would allow college students to carry concealed guns onto campuses after lawmakers defied his personal request for changes that would make exceptions to the gun rights expansion. […]“If the intent of HB 859 is to increase safety of students on college campuses, it is highly questionable that such would be the result,” Deal wrote in his veto message.
The “campus carry” bill would have permitted students with gun licenses to carry loaded weapons on college campuses – including in classrooms – though dormitories, fraternities, sorority houses, and athletic venues would have been excluded.
The NRA, which championed the proposal, expressed its disappointment yesterday and vowed to try again next year.
A similar “campus carry” policy is already law in Texas – much to the chagrin of university administrators – despite the evidence that these policies do little to improve public safety and actually put more people in harm’s way.
But just on a purely political level, why in the world is Georgia’s far-right governor rejecting conservative ideas from a legislature run by his own party?
I continue to think a lot of this has to do with Nathan Deal’s sense of freedom: the Republican was re-elected to a second term in 2014; he’s prevented by term limits from seeking a third; and he’s said he has no interest in running for any other office.
In other words, whether or not he makes various constituencies happy isn’t his top concern, since Deal knows his critics won’t be able to impose any kind of electoral punishments.
This is not to say the governor is some kind of moderate – as his approach to Medicaid expansion makes clear, he isn’t – but Deal is nevertheless capable of recognizing when GOP proposals put his state at risk and he has the luxury of acting appropriately.