|WV legislators are pushing forward a bill that would require all WV two and four-year colleges to allow concealed guns on their campuses, including buildings, classrooms, and sporting events.|
The bill appears to require a permit.
Currently all the state's colleges and universities do not allow gun carry on campus.
The Legislature, during the past two sessions, has entered more than two dozen gun expansion bills provided by the NRA gun lobby.
Last year, a bill passed that would allow guns on public school property, provided they remain in vehicles.
WVU officials are saying no to concealed firearms on campus.
WVU's Police Chief also spoke out against the bill.
Supporters say the bill is meant to deter a potential mass shooting.
Matt Turner, executive vice chancellor of administration for the state agencies overseeing public colleges, wrote in an email that college boards of governors “have the local authority, as property owners, to determine whether they wish to permit deadly weapons, concealed or otherwise, on their campuses.”
He referred to part of existing state law that says, generally, that an entity or individual “may prohibit the carrying openly or concealing of any firearm or deadly weapon on property under his or her domain.”
West Virginia State University President Anthony Jenkins said all the public Mountain State four-year colleges are opposed to the bill (House Bill 4298).
He said many campuses have summer camps with children, and he brought up possibly dangerous situations, like packed rivalry sports games for which people have been “pre-gaming,” or fraternity events with excessive drinking, or a student conduct matter where a student is about to face discipline.
He said colleges should be “grounds where we use our emotional intelligence and our intellectual capacity to agree to disagree, and to interject weapons changes the very foundation of what higher education is supposed to be about.”
He said colleges shouldn’t become the “O.K. Corral.”
“I don’t want gun-toting students on campus, and I don’t want gun-toting faculty and staff and administrators on campus,” Jenkins said.
The bill states a few areas where a college would still be able to “regulate possession of firearms.” Those are “a stadium or arena with a capacity of more than 5,000 spectators; “a daycare facility” on the college property, and “in the secure area of any building used by a law-enforcement agency” on the college property.
Delegate Larry Rowe, D-Kanawha, opposed the bill overall Friday and said he wanted to make several amendments to it, like allowing students to refuse being assigned to a dorm room with someone with a gun, but he knew they wouldn’t pass in House Education.
“I think it creates so many problems and doesn’t solve any,” Rowe said. “Why aren’t we allowing those institutions to make by rule where it’s appropriate and inappropriate?”
Delegate Ed Evans, D-McDowell, who opposed the bill, raised concerns about tailgating sports fans in parking lots and said he has a son in the 11th grade.
“I need to know when I send my son [to college] he’s going to be safe,” Evans said.
Another gun bill in the legislature would allow WV first responders to carry a gun. (Read earlier story)