Chris Schulz Published

Senate Passes Campus Carry Law

Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan, speaks on the Senate floor Jan. 24, 2023.
Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan, speaks on the Senate floor Jan. 24, 2023.
Will Price/WV Legislative Photography

Senate Bill 10 allows holders of concealed handgun permits to carry concealed on all of the state’s higher education campuses, regardless of existing restrictions.

The bill passed the Senate 29 – 4. Sen. Mike Maroney, R-Marshall, joined the three Senate Democrats in voting against the bill.

The bill advanced quickly through the Senate, passing out of the Judiciary Committee less than a week ago, on Jan. 18. 

Judiciary Chair Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan, took a moment to clarify what he called misinformation about the bill that had disseminated in the past week.

“This authority applies only to people who have a valid concealed carry permit, or the 18 year old, provisional permit we created for people between 18 and 21,” Trump said. 

“In other words, it requires everyone to undergo training, they have to have firearms training, because you have to have that to get the permit. This does not apply to, we created what has been referred to as constitutional carry or a permitless carry a few years ago, where any adult citizen in West Virginia, who has legal right to own and possess a firearm can carry. The provisions of this bill do not apply in that context.”

Trump also laid out the various exceptions from campus carry in the bill including campus daycares, events with more than 1000 spectators and rooms where disciplinary hearings are being held. 

In a repeat of the committee meeting, Sen. Mike Caputo, D-Marion, stood in opposition of the bill.

“I rise in opposition to this, Mr. President, I think it’s a bad idea. I think it’s a bad idea to basically encourage folks to carry weapons on campus,” Caputo said. “I just don’t know why we would want to put our youth in an atmosphere such as that. If you look at who doesn’t like this bill, domestic violence advocates hate it. The WVU student government passed a proclamation saying they didn’t want it. I heard from the faculty senate that said they should leave it up to the institutions.”

Later in the floor debate Sen. Mike Azinger, R-Wood, read a statement from his son and WVU SGA Senator Tommy Azinger expressing his support for the bill. Tommy was joined by At-Large Senator Christian Miller in his dissent from the student government’s proclamation.

Caputo stated that the bill functionally allowed the gun lobby to control the rules and regulations of higher education facilities in West Virginia. 

Marshall University and West Virginia University released a joint statement against the bill shortly after the committee meeting last week, but Caputo also cited comments from Concord University, West Virginia State, and Shepherd University.

“They also said, if enacted, this legislation would require our universities to make significant new investments in our public safety and security operations to include the addition of new law enforcement personnel, equipment and infrastructure to ensure compliance with the intent of this legislation, and to safeguard the security of our campus,” Caputo said. “They estimate that it could cost state colleges and universities up to $11.6 million, which we did not provide, in this piece of legislation, as under-resourced institutions that continue to adapt to the economic challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic. We simply do not have the financial resources to implement and administer the requirements of Senate Bill 10.”

The bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Rupie Phillips, R-Logan, pointed out 11 other states have already passed campus carry laws, and he wants West Virginia to be the 12th. 

Phillips said another reason to pass campus carry was to help stop sexual assaults on campus. He said the House of Delegates is eager to receive Senate Bill 10.

The bill now goes to the House of Delegates for their consideration.