The West Virginia chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action issued the following statement after the West Virginia Senate Judiciary committee voted to advance SB 10 — 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. 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. Several West Virginia University students spoke out in opposition to the bill last year.
“Our lawmakers continue to gamble with people’s lives by putting the interest of the gun lobby above protecting our communities,” Debra Price, a volunteer with the West Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “This is an out of touch and distorted view of freedom 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.”
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.
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, 330 people die by guns 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.