Today, West Virginia lawmakers in the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing and advanced SB 10 – a dangerous piece of legislation that would force public colleges and universities to allow hidden, loaded guns on campus. West Virginia law currently gives colleges and universities broad authority to prohibit guns on their campuses. If signed into law, SB 10 would gut these laws and strip public colleges of their power to restrict where concealed handguns can be carried — with few exceptions. The committee’s voting to move forward with this legislation is particularly tone deaf and short sighted, coming just days after three students were shot and killed, and five others shot and wounded at Michigan State University on Monday.
Among the testimonies in today’s hearing, lawmakers heard from Robert Avsec, a volunteer with the West Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action who said, “Forcing guns on West Virginia college and university campuses will only make the problem worse.” He added his own personal experience with gun violence as a first responder stating, “I’m a retired firefighter/paramedic who treated far too many victims of gun violence during my 26-year-career. I’ve seen first-hand the devastation that gun violence perpetrated on the victim, their family, and their community. It is my strong belief that as a nation, we must do more than offer ‘thoughts and prayers’ in response to gun violence.”
Research shows that allowing more firearms on school grounds is a serious risk to safety. The vast majority of states and colleges prohibit guns from being carried on campus either by law or choice. However, in recent years the gun lobby has pushed legislation to force guns on college campuses against the wishes of most students, staff, and campus law enforcement. There have been countless incidents that prove that when states allow guns at colleges and universities students and staff alike suffer from negligent acts of gun violence on campus. In 2019, a Georgia student unintentionally shot and wounded himself in a campus lounge.Guns are the number one cause of death for college-aged people in the U.S.
As we await further legislative action, Moms Demand Action volunteers will continue to advocate for public safety measures that will keep college campuses and universities safe spaces for learning.
Statistics about gun violence in West Virginia are available here, and Everytown’s Gun Law Rankings – which shows how West Virginia’s gun laws compare to those of other states – is available here. If you are interested in speaking with a West Virginia Moms Demand Action volunteer, please reach out to [email protected].