West Virginia governor signs campus carry gun bill

Feb 28, 2023, 6:07 PM | Updated: Mar 1, 2023, 9:14 am
FILE - West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice delivers his annual State of the State address in the House C...

FILE - West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice delivers his annual State of the State address in the House Chambers at the state capitol in Charleston, W.Va., on Jan. 11, 2023. Justice signed a bill Wednesday, March 1, 2023, allowing people with concealed carry permits to bring firearms on public college and university campuses in the state. (AP Photo/Chris Jackson, file)

(AP Photo/Chris Jackson, file)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s governor signed a bill Wednesday allowing people with concealed carry permits to take firearms onto public college and university campuses.

“Proud day for me,” Republican Gov. Jim Justice said as he signed the bill, surrounded by more than two dozen state lawmakers, members of the National Rifle Association, and the West Virginia Citizens Defense League.

The law will take effect in July 2024. Similar legislation has passed in 11 other states.

Justice said guns have been present on state campuses even without the new law.

“For crying out loud, the doors are wide open,” he said. “This is just saying the law-abiding people have a right to be able to carry if they choose to do so. We just hope and pray that there’s never a problem. We can’t ensure in any way that there won’t be a problem.”

He wants the law to “send a message to the world, by God , if you want to mess with us, we can mess back.”

The signing comes two weeks after a gunman shot and killed three students and injured five others at Michigan State University.

At a public hearing last month at the West Virginia Capitol, nearly all of the 40 people who spoke opposed the bill.

The presidents of West Virginia’s largest institutions of higher learning urged lawmakers to reconsider as the bill moved through the Legislature. They said decisions about whether or not to allow guns on campus should be left to the institutions, and voiced concerns about students struggling with mental health challenges.

West Virginia University President Gordon Gee said Wednesday that the university will form a campus safety group prior to the law’s effective date.

“Today we must come together to focus clearly on what is most important to all of us — keeping our students, faculty, staff, visitors and community members safe while on our campuses,” Gee said in a statement. “That has always been, and will remain, our utmost priority.”

The bill bans the open carry of a firearm on a college or university campus and allows institutions of higher learning to implement exceptions. It also prohibits people from taking guns into areas with a capacity of more than 1,000 spectators — stadiums for football games, for example — or to on-campus daycare centers.

The bill allows exceptions in rooms where a student or employee disciplinary proceeding is being held. Guns can be restricted in specifically designated areas where patient care or mental health counseling is being provided.

Schools would be permitted to regulate firearms in residence halls, but not in common areas, including lounges, dining areas and study areas. Colleges and universities will be required to provide a secure location for storage of a pistol or revolver in at least one on-campus residence hall or to make safes available in residence rooms, which could come with a fee.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Much of drought-plagued West Coast faces salmon fishing ban

The surreal and desperate scramble boosted the survival rate of the hatchery-raised fish, but still it was not enough to reverse the declining stocks in the face of added challenges.
2 days ago
UCLA's Jaime Jaquez Jr. (24) shoots while defended by Gonzaga's Rasir Bolton (45) in the first half...
Associated Press

Gonzaga beats UCLA 79-76 in Sweet 16 on Strawther’s shot

Julian Strawther hit a 3-pointer with 6 seconds left to answer a 3-pointer by UCLA's Amari Bailey, lifting Gonzaga to a wild 79-76 NCAA Tournament win over UCLA Thursday night in the Sweet 16.
2 days ago
Associated Press

Officials: Safety device, human error derailed Wash. train

A safety device failed, knocking a train off the tracks last week, spilling diesel after leaving an oil refinery in Anacortes.
2 days ago
File - Credit cards as seen July 1, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. A low credit score can hurt your ability...
Associated Press

What the Fed rate increase means for your credit card bill

The Federal Reserve raised its key rate by another quarter point Wednesday, bringing it to the highest level in 15 years as part of an ongoing effort to ease inflation by making borrowing more expensive.
3 days ago
police lights distracted drivers shooting...
Associated Press

Authorities: Missing mom, daughter in Washington found dead

A missing Washington state woman and her daughter were found dead Wednesday, according to police.
3 days ago
Associated Press

Google’s artificially intelligent ‘Bard’ set for next stage

Google announced Tuesday it's allowing more people to interact with “ Bard,” the artificially intelligent chatbot the company is building to counter Microsoft's early lead in a pivotal battleground of technology.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.
SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
West Virginia governor signs campus carry gun bill