West Virginia governor gives thumbs up to campus carry bill: "It may save a bunch of lives"

(AP Photo/Chris Jackson)

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has given his full-fledged support for a bill allowing concealed carry holders to bear arms on public college and university campuses, telling reporters that while he knows the bill is controversial in some quarters, he’ll “proudly” put pen to paper and sign SB 10 as soon as it gets to his desk.


The legislation cleared its final hurdle in the statehouse earlier this week when House lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor, despite objections from some students and faculty at West Virginia and Marshall universities, who claim that the measure will make campuses less safe. Speaking with the press on Wednesday, Justice pushed back on that premise and said the presence of armed citizens will be a benefit in the case of an active shooter.

“We see all across this nation where we have bad actors and bad actors doing stuff at a lot of our school campuses,” he said of mass shootings. “We see buildings that are soft targets with no firearms allowed.”

Ohio and Texas have had “campus carry” for years and years, he said.

Well, not Ohio, unfortunately, though students at the Ohio State University can at least store their concealed firearms in their vehicle while on campus. But campus carry has been in effect in Texas since 2016, and despite protests at the time it’s a non-issue now. The same is true in most of the other campus carry states, with the exception of Colorado, where student gun control activists are lobbying the state’s board of regents to make college and university campuses “gun-free zones.” The recent push isn’t related to any specific incident, but has more to do with the fact that in 2021 Colorado Democrats repealed the state’s firearm preemption law, freeing up political subdivisions (including the regents) to impose gun control restrictions that go beyond what’s found in state statute. Theoretically that means that the board has the authority to re-instate the ban that was in place until 2012, though doing so would undoubtably invite a lawsuit.


Anyway, that’s another post for another time. In West Virginia firearms preemption is still the law of the land, just like campus carry will be once Justice gets ahold of SB 10.

Justice said he “strongly” believes in the bill and when it comes to his desk he will sign it “in just a few seconds.”

“I believe people who have conceal carry permits are law-abiding, good people with rock solid credentials,” he said. “It (the bill) may save a bunch of lives.”

I actually hope that’s not the case, because I hope that West Virginia never sees the kind of campus violence that we’ve seen at universities like Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University, and most recently at Michigan State. But while we hope for the best we plan for the worst contingencies, and Justice is right that if someone with evil in their heart and mass murder on their mind does target a college campus in West Virginia, a “guns not allowed” sign isn’t going to stop them.

There’s no guarantee that an armed student or faculty member would be able to do so either, but SB 10 at least increases the odds of that happening, as well as giving students and staff the ability to protect themselves from more commonplace criminal activity like robberies and carjackings.


I suspect this bill will not only benefit law-abiding West Virginians, but Justice as well, at least if he does decide to run for U.S. Senate next year. Campus carry may be unpopular and controversial in progressive circles, but in West Virginia those circles are pretty small, and Justice’s support for the Second Amendment will go a long way with West Virginia voters.

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