Campus Carry legislation queued up for key debate in WV House

(Jay Jenner/Austin American-Statesmanvia AP)

While anti-gun Democrats in Michigan are sure to use Monday night’s shooting on the campus of Michigan State to push for more restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, lawmakers in West Virginia are likely to point to the incident as a reason for the state to adopt the provisions of SB 10, a bill that would allow licensed concealed carry holders to lawfully bear arms in self-defense on West Virginia college and university campuses.


The legislation has already cleared the state Senate, and is scheduled to be heard in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Expect supporters and opponents alike to testify; perhaps even some of the small contingent of students at West Virginia University who protested the bill on campus earlier this week.

“We feel very strongly this would be a threat to student safety,” said Keeley Wildman, a graduate student in social work. “We think this will bring further violence to our campus.”

Wildman read a letter written by her sister, who was a student at Phillip Barbour High School in Philippi on Aug. 25, 2015, when a 14-year-old freshman brought a gun to school and held a class hostage.

I was the scariest day of her life, her sister wrote. Shortly after lunch, a code red was called and armed police officers in riot gear were running toward the school. She joined others to hide in closet. “Fortunately, no one was killed that day. However, many lives were changed for the worse.”

That must have been a terrifying situation, but a 14-year-old holding a high school classroom hostage has nothing to do with responsible gun owners being able to protect themselves from violent encounters on campus. In fact, I’d argue that campus carry would reduce the threat of a similar situation from taking place in a WVU classroom building, but at the very least the legislation would allow for the possibility of an armed response from a student or staff member.


Tiara Rowe, a senior political science major, recalled a student suicide on campus. She said the state should recognize and deal with mental health issues before allowing 30,000 students to carry guns.

People with mental health issues may be easily triggered, she said, and more guns will increase the likelihood of a shooting. “I feel unsafe and I’m sure my peers feel unsafe.”

And if anyone feels unsafe after the bill takes effect, she said, maybe make your concerns known by not going to class. “Sometimes silence is the answer.”

You won’t find any objections from me about fixing or funding the state’s mental health system. The vast majority of states across the country desperately need to do the same thing. But that’s a separate issue from campus carry, which simply states that concealed carry licensees who are already carrying off-campus won’t be committing a crime if they step foot onto the grounds of WVU or any other public college or university in West Virginia.

We know for a fact that designating a particular location as a “gun-free zone” doesn’t stop those with murderous intent from bring a weapon into that supposedly sensitive place. Instead, these policies disarm the law-abiding, leaving them to rely on a quick police response rather than being able to exercise their fundamental right to self-defense. West Virginia lawmakers have the chance to greatly improve the status quo by approving SB 10, and tomorrow’s hearing in the House Judiciary Committee should give us a pretty good idea of the bill’s chances for success in the full House.



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