A bill that would allow students and faculty to carry guns on state university campuses was approved Friday by the West Virginia House Education Committee and now moves to the House Judiciary Committee. A date for the Judiciary Committee’s vote has yet to be decided.
Shepherd University faculty members are mounting a campaign against the bill organized by the state Advisory Council of Faculty. In an email sent Friday to faculty, political science professor Max Guirguis included contact information for the 25 members of the House Judiciary Committee so faculty can lobby against the measure.
“The faculty, staff, and administration of Shepherd University are of the mind that more guns will not make campus a safer place,” Guirguis said in an email. “We already have a well-trained and armed police force. Allowing people to bring firearms to campus would only make their job harder.”
Dr. Heidi Hanrahan, a member of faculty senator for the English department, agreed.
“The English Department and the entire faculty senate was unanimous on not allowing guns on campus,” Hanrahan said. “It is not something any of us want here.”
Shepherd University Counsel Alan Perdue sent an email to faculty Friday afternoon to say that University President Mary J.C. Hendrix has joined a “substantial majority” of public university presidents in the state urging the bill not become law.
He added that Shepherd is exploring the possibilities of amending the measure “to help us in our responsibilities for the administration of the campuses.”
Perdue noted that there are differences of opinion on the bill and added, “Campus Carry legislation presents deep concerns for most college administrators because our experiences with students on a daily basis reflect large numbers of students who are not well suited, emotionally and psychologically, to either the routine of carrying of a deadly weapon or to the exposure to peers who are carrying such weapons.”
The state Legislative Committee approved the measure in a voice vote.
The bill would permit those with permits to carry concealed deadly weapons and bring them to state campuses. It would not allow guns in all campus buildings, and would prohibit them in buildings designated as no-carry zones by universities.
Under the proposal, universities would have to provide weapon screening and armed guards at these building entrances. Guns also could be prohibited in university buildings that are the site of events for the paying public. This provision in the bill was also mentioned in the faculty resolution, stating that the costs of securing buildings for events was too expensive.
The Shepherd University faculty Senate voted unanimously in December to oppose the measure.