Justice Signs Campus Self-Defense Act into Law – The Parthenon

Concealed Carry

Despite outspoken opposition, Governor Jim Justice signed Senate Bill 10, or the Campus Self-Defense Act, into law on Wednesday morning, Mar. 1, after passing through both the State Senate and House of Delegates.

The law allows for the concealed carry of handguns on college campuses state-wide for current concealed carry permit holders—including those from 18 to 21 with a provisional license—by overriding the authority of higher education committees to restrict the carry of firearms on campuses.

During the signing ceremony, Justice thanked the West Virginia legislature for the bill’s passage and the National Rifle Association for their support for the bill while also addressing the fears over student safety.

“We awaken over and over and over—whether it be to a television broadcast or whatever it may be—to a catastrophe happening in lots of different places in our nation many, many, many times,” Justice said. “If we have gun-completely-free areas—to where absolutely, without any question, there’s no way to defend ourselves—then it seems like those are the targets that are targeted many, many, many times.”

The bill does include exemptions, such as for sporting events, campus daycares and residence halls, except in common areas such as student lounges. The bill allows institutions 18 months to prepare before the bill takes effect in July 2024.

The universities are responsible for providing storage facilities or in-room safes for handguns. The bill allows the universities to charge students fees for firearm storage.

The bill was opposed by both Marshall President Brad Smith as well as West Virginia University President E. Gordan Gee. Both presidents released a joint letter to the West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee saying that while they “support local control,” they did “not support statewide campus carry.”

However, in light of the bill’s passing, Smith addressed some of its ramifications and Marshall’s preparations in a press release that same Wednesday. 

“Now that this bill has been signed into law, we must come together as a community and work through the implications as they relate to the overall safety of our campuses and centers,” he said. “As we move forward, we will continue our prioritized focus of safety for all of us – students, faculty, staff, visitors and community.”

Senate Bill 10 previously passed the State Senate in a vote 29-4, followed by the House of Delegates in a vote of 84-13.

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