CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has signed a bill into law allowing people with concealed carry permits to bring firearms onto state college and university campuses.
The governor signed the bill on Wednesday, March 1 during a bill signing ceremony at the West Virginia Capitol Building. The law goes into effect on July 1, 2024.
Senate Bill 10, also known as the Campus Self-Defense Act, was passed by the State Senate on Jan. 24 with a 29-4 vote and by the House of Delegates on Feb. 21 with a 84-13 vote. After it passed the House, Justice announced he would sign the bill.
According to the West Virginia Legislature, the Campus Self-Defense Act will take away the authority of the Higher Education Policy Commission, the Council for Community and Technical College Education, and the institutional boards of governors to regulate or restrict the carrying of firearms on higher-education campuses. The signing of the bill makes West Virginia the 12th state to allow law-abiding permit holders to carry a weapon on the campuses of institutions of higher education in the state.
“The last thing in the world that I want is a campus that has signs posted. You know, ‘this is completely a no weapons zone,'” Justice said. “Because there will be the only people who show up with weapons are the bad guys, and we don’t want we don’t want people just showing up as the bad guys because it puts our people in a very vulnerable position.”
Proponents of the bill say allowing people to conceal carry on campuses may help stop the possibility of school shootings. Opponents, however, say they believe the bill would bring more injuries and violence to college campuses, as well as be unfair to students.
Higher education leaders also strongly opposed the bill, arguing the decision should be left to the schools. In January, Marshall University President Brad D. Smith and West Virginia University President Gordon Gee released a joint letter stating they say they do not support the Campus Self-Defense Act.