WV Senate panel defeats plan for guns on campus

The bill was defeated in a 7-9 vote (photo courtesy of Think Advisor)

A measure that would have allowed concealed carry of guns on West Virginia college campuses was rejected Tuesday night by the Senate Judiciary Committee and appears unlikely to be revived this year.

In a 7-9 vote, the panel defeated the controversial plan, which had been approved by the West Virginia House Feb. 27 in a 59-41 tally.

Officials from universities across West Virginia spoke out against the bill since it was introduced to the House of Delegates in January 2019. University professors and students converged on the Charleston State House earlier this week to protest the measure.

Had the bill been passed it would have required universities to allow those with valid gun licenses to bring them on campus. Under current law, universities can prohibit concealed carry. University officials decried the security risks of guns on campus, and the Higher Education Commission estimated the measure would cost universities $11.6 million for additional security personnel and equipment.

Plans had been in the works for a statewide faculty walkout on Wednesday, March 6, to oppose the bill. When that didn’t materialize, professors statewide, including some at Shepherd University, were taking steps to travel to Charleston to join the protests.

Dr. Jason Mckahan is the chair of the Shepherd Communications Department and was one of the professors who tried to gather a group of professors to attend the protests.

“Faculty senate voted unanimously to support a resolution against the bill,” Mckahan said. “However, some felt that a campus walkout would not be as effective and would be a detriment to students’ education due to the snow.”

The bill will not have the chance to return to the WV legislature. West Virginia remains one of 22 states that allows universities to choose whether to allow concealed carry of firearms on their campuses.