By Sunni Moore
West Virginia Senate Bill 10, known as the "Campus Self Defense Act" was signed into law by Governor Jim Justice on March 1. The bill will go into effect on July 1, 2024, and will allow those with a valid permit to carry concealed weapons on campus. We will become one of 12 states which permit campus carry.
The bill prohibits the carrying of weapons in sports facilities with a capacity of more than 1,000 spectators; daycares; k-12 school functions taking place on campus; health care facilities; areas used by law enforcement; and residential areas of the dorms. However, concealed weapons may be carried in common areas such as dining halls, study areas, and lounges within those resident halls. In addition, individual institutions may regulate where permit holders can carry on their campuses. The universities must provide secure firearm storage at those facilities where guns are prohibited.
Senate Bill 10 permits only the use of handguns, and it strictly forbids open carry. Although West Virginia allows constitutional carry (which is the legal public carry of a handgun without a permit) this bill requires a current and valid permit for all firearms being brought on campus.
Although the regulations of the Campus Self Defense Act strictly prohibit the misuse of firearms, it still raises concerns from the public. Some people have expressed their disapproval of the bills passing, commenting that they don’t believe people are mature enough to handle such responsibility in a setting such as a college campus and that it will inevitably be used for the wrong purpose. Meanwhile, others think that being able to legally carry a firearm is necessary in staying safe and that it is better than keeping firearms hidden in their rooms or vehicles.
Students from all over the state have also expressed their concerns on the subject, arguing that the growing rate of crime on college campuses will only be stressed further with the presence of firearms. However, the consensus from West Virginia’s students is split, as other students have expressed approval of the bill. Those in favor of the bill have stated that by requiring the permit it means that they have been vetted and certified to carry a handgun, giving them the right to defend themselves and those around them if ever needed.
Since the Campus Self Defense Act (Senate Bill 10) will be effective at Glenville State University in July of 2024, our campus will undergo changes that are necessary for campus safety and that are legally required by the law. Such as the firearm storages and the ban on open carry (which will be strictly monitored by GSU Public Safety). Additionally, faculty and staff will have the say-so in whether they allow concealed carry in their individual offices. However, everyone will be required to follow the same rules presented in the bill. GSU President, Dr. Mark Manchin, commented in regard to campus concerns by saying "The safety of our students, staff, faculty, and community members is the top priority."
Due to the seriousness of the situation and the impact it will have on our campus, it is important for our community to be informed and prepared for these changes that are coming.
The full law can be found: West Virginia Code | §18B-4-5b (wvlegislature.gov)