Starting on July 1st of next year, West Virginia’s public colleges and universities will no longer be “gun-free zones” where the right to bear arms is not allowed. On Wednesday morning, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed SB 10 into law, completing the legislation’s rapid journey into law. While SB 10 was just introduced less than two months ago the push for campus carry has actually gone on for several years in the state; failing to reach the finish line in 2018 and again the following year. Objections from higher-ed officials weren’t enough to sideline the measure this time around, unlike in past sessions, and Justice said on Wednesday morning that the new law will ensure that students and staff can defend themselves if necessary from an attack on campus.
The Governor was joined at the ceremony by members of the NRA and other government officials.
‘We need to stand rock solid by who we are and by the Second Amendment and all the greatness that we are in this great state and the send the message to the world, by God if you wanna mess with us, we can mess back, ‘ Gov. Justice said.
“The Campus Self-Defense Act recognizes the fact that danger doesn’t disappear just because you’ve stepped onto campus grounds,” said NRA’s West Virginia State Director Art Thomm. “Now, those who choose to exercise the right will have the ability to protect themselves, their classmates, and their loved ones should they need.”
There are some exceptions in the new law, including continuing to prohibit firearms at stadiums or arenas that can hold more than 1,000 people and requiring concealed carry holders who live in dorms to keep their firearms stored in a secure facility outside of their dorm rooms. But campuses and the vast majority of classroom buildings will no longer be considered “sensitive places” where guns can be banned, and that’s a very good thing.
With Justice putting pen to paper, there are now a dozen states across the country that have campus carry laws in place, though there might be small variances in state statutes. And based on past experience, my guess is that the controversy over campus carry in West Virginia will soon die down, at least until next July. There’ll be another flurry of op-eds and outrage when the law takes effect, but that won’t last beyond a typical news cycle. The predictions of classroom debates devolving into gunfights, students angrily confronting professors with a gun over a bad grade, and a mass exodus of students and staff in light of the new law won’t come to pass, and campus carry will become a non-issue just like it is in states like Texas, Kansas, and Utah.
One notable exception is Colorado, where some student activists are currently trying to get the state board of regents to the repeal campus carry law that’s been in place for decades; not because of any particular incident, but because of their anti-gun ideology. In a blue state like Colorado those repeal efforts might get some traction, but they’re not likely to be replicated in red states like West Virginia.
Congratulations to West Virginia gun owners, legislators, and Gov. Jim Justice for their successful effort to expand the Second Amendment’s protections to college and university settings. This is a big step forward, and hopefully it spurs lawmakers in other red states to join in the cause and ensure that the right to keep and bear arms doesn’t disappear at the borders of a public university.