1.) The Bill
West Virginia House Bill 2519, titled The Campus Self Defense Act and commonly referred to as Campus Carry, was introduced on January 18, 2019. This bill allows an individual with a valid license to conceal carry [such weapon] on campus of a public institution of higher education.
Does this certain bill happen to ring a bell? Last year, The Campus Self Defense Act was previously introduced as WV HB 4298 on January 25, 2018. However, the progression of the bill was halted due to the WV teacher strike.
Now, Campus Carry not only makes a reappearance in the state legislature but in the conversations via the public, social media and among my fellow peers at West Virginia University.
2.) The Discourse: Charleston, WV
On February 11, the WV Legislature House Chamber opened its floor for public hearings regarding the bill.
Individuals took the stand to either support the Campus Self Defense Act or completely condemn its efforts.
Sara Anderson, WVU Education professor, claims concealed weapons on campus would “bring intimidation into the classroom.”
On the other hand, WVU Student Taylor Giles defends Campus Carry by stating that it is a violation of students’ rights by not allowing those to carry a concealed firearm.
WVU SGA President, Issac Obioma, took the stand to say that he doesn’t want guns in classrooms and dorms. He believes WVUPD has the ability to keep campus safe. Abbi Yachini, WVU SGA Vice President, states the usage of guns as self defense does not decrease the chance of being injured in a criminal act.
However, Fairmont State SGA Vice President, Tyler Keller, refreshed the routine of only stating personal opinions. Keller reached out to his constituents to gather their thoughts on the matter and presenting the various opinions during the public hearing.
3.) The Discourse: WVU
At WVU, instructors held conversations/debates on Campus Carry and students took to social media to express their view points. A petition was created against bill via change.org.
The subject of Campus Carry did not escape the topic of conversation during the WVU SGA meeting on Wednesday. Ten members of the SGA assembly drafted a proclamation against HB 2519. The proclamation stated concerns about the ability to conceal carry on a public university campus: mental health/self harm, public safety, lack of proper situational training, cost of security, etc.
After an assembly vote, the proclamation passed and will be delivered to Speaker of the WV HoD Roger Hanshaw, Senate President Mitch Carmichael, and Governor Jim Justice.
4.) The Libertarian Take
As someone who believes in individual freedom, personal autonomy, and the importance of constitutional rights, I support the Campus Carry legislation. If you’re a law abiding gun owner, your constitutional rights do not end simply because you decided to get an education.
Regarding WVU’s SGA meeting – while I do serve on the student assembly, that does not render myself unable to share my criticisms. I do applaud everyone in attendance for the civil discourse that was shared and harboring an atmosphere where students were able to speak their opinions.
However, political bias should be separated from the Student Government Association. It does not matter if you place your opinion on a piece of paper littered with SGA logos – those in SGA should be the voice of the students, not for the students.
Additionally, if the situation was reversed and SGA drafted a proclamation in support of Campus Carry, my vote would still be “no”. No matter what office someone holds, their title does not qualify their opinion to supersede the people they represent.
Everyone should take notes from Tyler Keller, who chose to represent the various opinions of his constituents at FSU.