‘Campus Carry’ passed by Senate

By Matthew Young, RealWV

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – “Campus carry” took another big step toward becoming law on Tuesday, as the bill was passed in the Senate by a vote of 29 to four. 

SB 10 – also known as the “Campus Self-Defense Act” – which seeks “to allow persons who are holders of concealed handgun permits to carry concealed on the campuses of the state’s institutions of higher education,” has been denounced by both West Virginia University (WVU), and Marshall University. Additionally, Concord and Shepherd universities have expressed safety concerns should the bill become law. 

In lieu of a full reading, Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan, provided a brief overview of the bill, noting that 11 other states have enacted similar legislation; including Georgia, Kansas,  Mississippi, Idaho, Colorado, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Arkansas. 

Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan.

“And I know there are other states in which this type of legislation is being considered,” Trump said, before adding that, “Even though we’re granting authority in this bill – if it passes – to conceal carry, there is no open carry. Whether you have a permit or not to conceal carry, the law prohibits open carry on college or university campuses.” 

Read additional details about the bill, including exceptions and limitations, here. 

According to Trump, the bill also includes provisions to limit an institution’s liability “for actions that are taken by a student or faculty member who is exercising his right under this statute.” 

Sen. Mike Caputo, D-Marion, spoke against passage of the bill, saying, “I believe there’s enough sponsors on this bill to pass without any other votes, but I rise in opposition.” 

“I think it’s a bad idea to basically encourage folks to carry weapons on campus,” Caputo said. “I just don’t know why we would want to put our youth in an atmosphere such as that. And if you look at who doesn’t like this bill – domestic violence advocates hate it, the WVU Student Government passed a proclamation saying that they didn’t want it.”

Sen. Mike Caputo, D-Marion.

Caputo then referenced his recent appearance on the “Talkline” radio program, when the NRA (National Rifle Association) and gun lobbyists were identified as the primary proponents of the bill, saying, “We’re going to let a lobby group control the rules and regulations of a higher education facility in West Virginia.”

“That, to me, just does not make good sense,” Caputo said. “I can’t – in good faith – just stand here and not speak for those who don’t want to see this implemented in West Virginia.”

Caputo then referred to the bill as an “unfunded mandate,” noting the estimated $11.6 million cost to state institutions to implement the necessary safety measures required if concealed handguns are permitted on campuses. 

“I am for responsible gun ownership,” Caputo added. “But I just think that the college atmosphere where kids are partying, and learning, and growing up – things happen, they just do. I think it’s a bad idea for West Virginia.”

Immediately following Caputo’s remarks, Sen. Rupie Phillips, R-Logan – the lead sponsor of SB 10 – rose in defense of the bill, saying, “To sit and think that guns are not on campuses right now – you’re fooling yourself. They’re there.”

Sen. Rupie Phillips, R-Logan.

“This is freedom, this is America,” Phillips continued. “There are veterans who have fought for our freedom. This is freedom.”

Phillips then spoke of an ordinance in the town of Kennesaw, GA, requiring that every household maintain a firearm, saying, “That’s awesome. I think that’s something we oughta look at in the future for every household in West Virginia – that’s another bill.” 

“This is what West Virginia is,” Phillips added. “We’ve got a gun on our seal. Thank God for West Virginia and freedom.”

Joining Caputo in voting against the bill were Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, and Senate Minority Leader Michael Woelfel, D-Cabell, as well as Sen. Michael Maroney, R-Marshall. The bill will now be referred to the House of Delegates for their consideration. 


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