VALDOSTA — Two Valdosta State University professors are among the plaintiffs suing to stop enforcement of a law allowing people to bring concealed firearms onto college campuses, according to court documents.

In 2017, the General Assembly passed, and Gov. Nathan Deal signed, House Bill 270, which allows people with firearms permits to bring concealed weapons onto public college property. Previously, weapons had been banned on public campuses statewide.

On Sept. 25, a lawsuit was filed in Fulton County Superior Court by six university professors from around Georgia to halt enforcement of HB 270. The lawsuit names Deal and Georgia Attorney General Christopher Carr as defendants.

The lawsuit argues, in essence, that the Georgia constitution guarantees the Board of Regents, the governing body for the state's public colleges, exclusive authority to set campus policies, including gun rules. The legislature had no legal authority to pass a law to override the regents, the lawsuit claims.

The Board of Regents has opposed campus-carry efforts in recent years.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction against enforcing HB 270, plus litigation costs and attorney's fees.

Among the plaintiffs are Michael Noll and Aristotelis Santas, VSU professors who, court documents claim, have been forced to alter their teaching styles due to the campus-carry rule.

Noll, a professor of geography, fears "vigorous debate" in the classroom will be chilled; he will no longer hold in-person office hours and plans to move some of his courses online, according to court filings.

Santas, a professor of philosophy and religious studies, will no longer promote discussion of hot-button issues in his classroom and will no longer require students to show up for class, court documents claim.

Noll and Santas both declined comment for this story, referring questions to their attorney, Jennifer Bunting of the Jones Day law firm in Atlanta, who also declined comment.

Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.

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