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State Legislature Gets It Right on Campus Guns

By James Trent
On February 27, 2018

Campuses would have been obligated to allow anyone to carry a firearm.
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West Virginia voted against the bill that would have allowed guns to be freely carried on college campuses, and this was definitely the best decision they could’ve made. 
The bill was set to change how campuses could regulate guns on campus, specifically that colleges could not regulate them at all. West Virginia colleges are currently allowed to choose for themselves how they want to handle guns on campus. The bill, titled “The Campus Self Defense Act,” would have stripped that authority away from colleges. They would have been obligated by law to allow anyone and everyone who wants to carry a gun on campuses to do so, without any contest. No college in the state would have been able to stop anyone from carrying a gun onto school grounds, which is a scary thought, especially right in the middle of a huge mass shooting spike.
 West Virginia’s state gun laws are already noticeably lax, too. Anyone over 18 can open carry, and anyone over 21 can concealed carry a handgun, both without a permit. West Virginia does not require anyone to register their firearms, and there are of course no assault weapons laws to speak of. West Virginia is very cavalier about guns as it stands and this proposed bill took what little gun regulation there is in the state and tossed it out the window.
Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit organization that keeps a running score of school shootings, has reported 18 school shootings in the country this year alone. It is important to note, however, that Eveytown for Gun Safety’s website defines a school shooting as, “any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds.” This statistic also includes incidents where someone commits suicide by gun on school grounds, or a firearm is discharged without injury at all. The statistic is still scary despite these broad definitions, because it shows how often guns already make their way onto campuses and school grounds and are fired. If anyone could legally carry a gun onto school property, that statistic would only increase and there would inevitably be some kind of violent incident.
The bill was proposed, and backed, almost exclusively by the National Rifle Association (NRA). No college was in favor of the bill. In fact, many presidents, deans, faculty, and student bodies had written letters protesting the bill, showing just how much West Virginia campuses did not want this to pass. Concord’s own Student Government Association passed a motion on Feb. 14 for the Student Senate to condemn the bill, and President Boggess has taken trips to Charleston to mitigate the damage from the bill. In the discussion of that motion, many students spoke up and said they would feel unsafe and concerned with firearms on campus. Thankfully these concerns from across the state were heard, and the House Committee killed the bill.
There were some ways colleges could have regulated guns on their property, but many of these came with their own issues. Venues of a certain size would’ve been allowed to restrict guns, but that involves more equipment, such as metal detectors, and an increased police presence to enforce. The expense of these unofficial mandates would be huge, and there would be no guarantee of their success, offering students no real increase in safety when compared to the current state rules forbidding guns in the first place, and these expensive provisions would come at a time where school budgets across the state are already bleeding out.
Rejecting the bill was certainly the right decision. Allowing guns to be freely carried on campus would do nothing in favor of safety, and would have more than likely led to more gun violence on campuses. The damage would not have been immediate, and perhaps nothing would have happened for years, but whenever something did happen, like someone getting shot, it would have been preventable today. So the state legislature made the right decision, and students should jump at the opportunity to be proud of their state government for as long as they can.  

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