In an op-ed published in USA Today, former R.E.M. front-man Michael Stipe pleaded with Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to veto a law that would allow students to open carry on campus.
Along with 78 percent of his fellow Georgians, Stipe thinks the presence of guns on campus will have a deleterious effect not only on student safety, but on the intellectual missions of the state's colleges and universities.
"I worry about what it means when loaded guns are allowed at a tailgate where alcohol is being served," he wrote. "I’m concerned for survivors of sexual assault, who may soon have to face an armed assailant at the time of the crime and again at their disciplinary hearing."
Moreover, "I'm worried about classrooms. If students are debating a contested subject – which is crucial to learning and expanding their worldviews – I worry what will happen to that open and honest conversation when the participants know that the people around them could have loaded guns in their backpacks."
Stipe noted that when a similar law was passed in Texas, it compelled many distinguished faculty to leave, and cost the state almost $56 million in order to create the systems required to allow firearms on campus.
"Everyone in this fight believes they’re fighting to make colleges safer. But a loud gun lobby shouldn’t outweigh the voices of people across the country -- 78 percent of students, 95 percent of college presidents and 89 percent of police chiefs -- who say they don’t want this."
"I hope the governor listens to his constituents and does what’s in the best interest of all citizens of Georgia by vetoing this dangerous bill," Stipe concluded.