The West Virginia chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action issued the following statement after West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed a very 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. This bill strips colleges of their power to restrict where concealed handguns can be carried — with few exceptions. Several West Virginia University students spoke out in opposition to the bill .
“College students, faculty, and staff are now at a greater risk for gun violence as public colleges will no longer have the power to keep guns out of most places—including classrooms, dining halls, dormitory lounges, study halls, fraternity houses, and playgrounds,” said Dee Price, a volunteer with the West Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action “There is no higher call for a public servant than to keep their constituents safe — but today our lawmakers and Governor Justice have failed to keep their oath by choosing to act in the interest of the gun lobby instead of the safety of our communities.”
Research shows that allowing more firearms on school grounds could be a serious risk to safety. A 2018 study found that, on average, all kinds of members of the campus community—including those who own guns—believed that allowing concealed carry on campus would damage a school’s academic environment and potentially escalate contentious situations.Campuses have unique risk factors, such as high rates of mental illness and an increased use of alcohol and drugs, that make the presence of guns potentially deadly. Gun violence is the leading cause of death amongst college-age people.
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.
In an average year, 322 people die by guns and 788 people are shot and wounded in West Virginia. Gun violence costs West Virginia $4.3 billion each year, of which $75.5 million is paid by taxpayers. More about the danger of guns on campus is available here. And more information about gun violence in West Virginia is available here.