CAPITOL BEAT: Campus conceal carry bill passes W.Va. Senate

Concealed carry on campus bill passes Senate
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 5:21 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WVVA) - A bill that would allow college students to carry concealed handguns sailed through the Senate on Tuesday. The measure passed by a vote of 49 to four and now heads to the House of Delegates for consideration.

The vote came despite opposition from several major state colleges and universities, including WVU. In letters to lawmakers, they recognized West Virginians’ second amendment rights, but raised concerns over the risk to students with mental health issues.

Sen. Rupie Phillips, (R) Logan County, was the lead sponsor of the bill that strictly bans open carry on campus. He said the measure will add a layer of protection for females, who studies show are at an elevated risk of being sexually assaulted on campus.

“Guns are already there. It’s like a bully. A bully won’t fight if he knows you’re going to fight back.”

Senator Rollan Roberts, (R) Raleigh County, also voted in favor of the legislation. “There is a tiered system with this. It’s not everything goes. It’s not open carry. It’s only for those who have gone through the concealed carry permit classes.”

While supporters of the bill said it allows students to act in self-defense, opponents raised concerns over the risks involving students who are mentally ill or suicidal.

“More guns mean more opportunity for guns to be discharged and people to be shot. You don’t need a college degree to do the math,” said Sen. Mike Caputo, (D) Marion County.

The measure includes a number of exceptions for events with more than a thousand spectators, campus daycare facilities, and residence halls. Colleges will be required to provide a safe for students at residence hall facilities and will be able to charge for the service.

Colleges and universities will still be able to restrict concealed carry in specific buildings under the legislation as long as they provide security or metal detectors to make sure others are not carrying guns.

If the bill becomes law, West Virginia will be the 12th state in the nation to implement this law. The legislation heads next to the House of Delegates.