Randy Yohe Published

Campus Carry Bill Completes Legislation, Awaits Governor’s Signature

Clean cut delegate stands in the middle of a crowded chamber and speaks.
De. Mike Honaker, R-Greenbrier, former trooper and marine, speaks in favor of SB10.
Randy Yohe/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Emotions ran high and the rhetoric ran long as House debate closed Tuesday on the contentious campus carry firearms bill.  

Senate Bill 10, or the Campus Self-Defense Act, on third reading in the House of Delegates, would allow for the concealed carry of firearms on college campuses, with limited gun restrictions in places like stadiums, on-campus daycare and disciplinary hearings. Concealed firearms in residence halls would not be allowed in dorm rooms – but would be permitted in common areas – with a “gun locker” provided.

Divided down party lines, several of the dozen House Democrats spoke passionately against the bill, concerned with taking institutional freedom away from the many state colleges and universities opposed to campus carry.  

Del. John Williams, D-Monongalia, voiced his opposition by quoting data driven research from Johns Hopkins University on the issue.

“The authors examined the 111 high fatality mass shootings, defined as six or more murder victims that occurred in the United States since 1966. The study found that only 13 of them had taken place in a gun free zone. The report also concluded that these types of laws don’t limit gun violence on campuses, rather they increase them,” Williams said. “As for college campuses, the report notes that fights, suicide attempts and reckless behavior are more lethal when a firearm is present and are far more common among college students, in general, than opportunities for armed students to stop rampages.”

In near unison, many of the 88 House Republicans, like Del. Chris Pritt, R-Kanawha, said allowing students, faculty and staff to carry firearms on the state’s college campuses does what lawmakers are pledged to do, defend and protect the individual’s rights.

Individual rights are not circumstantial. They shouldn’t depend on where a person is, there should be no such thing as a second class constitutional right, and that’s what we’re talking about here,” Pritt said. “There’s a lot of talk about whether something may or may not happen, but there hasn’t been any talk up to this point on what it means to have an actual constitutional right. This is a right in fairness, it is fairly unique in the world. This is a right that we have as Americans, but it’s for good reason. It’s based on our history, it’s based on our founders and the trials and tribulations that they faced.”

The Campus Self-Defense Act passed 84-13. It has now completed legislation and goes to Gov. Jim Justice for his signature.