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West Virginia Legislature Adjourns its 2024 Session After Considering Several Bills to Further Weaken Gun Violence Prevention Safeguards; Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Respond 

March 11, 2024

Charleston, WV – The West Virginia chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action issued the following statement following the last day of the 2024 legislative session. Despite the fact that West Virginia already ranks 27th in the country for the strength of its gun laws, lawmakers spent the legislative session introducing and advancing legislation that would put more guns in schools, rather than take proactive measures to keep students safe from gun violence. The House passed a dangerous measure (HB4299) that would have forced West Virginia schools to allow teachers and other staff in K-12 schools to carry concealed firearms in schools if they met the program’s limited eligibility requirements – including a maximum of 24 hours of training – even if schools didn’t want to participate. Thankfully, the Senate didn’t take up the bill. 

“This legislative session was yet another example of our lawmakers prioritizing the gun lobby’s ‘guns everywhere’ agenda instead of the safety of our communities and children,” said Deanna McKinney, a survivor and volunteer with the West Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “West Virginia lacks most foundational, common sense gun safety laws and our communities continue to pay the price. We’re grateful that this dangerous bill to arm teachers didn’t get passed through the Senate this year, and we’ll be back next year to make sure it stays that way.” 

Lawmakers in West Virginia have spent the last few years weakening the state’s gun safety laws and have introduced a bill to arm teachers in K-12 schools in several consecutive sessions. This year, the bill passed through the House for the first time, marking a dangerous precedent for years to come. Research shows that arming teachers introduces new risks of gun violence in schools and puts the lives of students, teachers, and law enforcement in danger. 

In addition to HB4299, West Virginia lawmakers advanced several other dangerous measures that would increase the proliferation of firearms in schools and communities across the state. This includes HB4851 and SB143, which would have created programs to allow armed “guardians” in K-12 schools. Though each chamber passed similar bills, they were unable to agree on final language to the benefit of West Virginia students. Measures that make our schools more like military bases do not create the nurturing and trusting environment that is conducive to learning. 

More information on gun violence in West Virginia can be found here. 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. 

If you are interested in speaking with a West Virginia Moms Demand Action volunteer, please reach out to [email protected].

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