CHARLESTON, W.Va. — If the Legislature is laser-focused on passing H.B. 2519, The Campus Self Defense Act, then West Virginia University remains just as focused on making sure a number of requested exemptions make it into the final version of the law.
Rob Alsop, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at WVU, said there’s already been good dialogue on the bill as WVU works to convince legislators to adopt a number of exemptions to the proposed law that would allow for concealed carry on college campuses.
“We haven’t gotten everything that we want,” Alsop said Wednesday on MetroNews “Talkline” with Hoppy Kercheval. “But we have gotten a number of exemptions that will allow us to keep dangerous weapons off the most sensitive areas of campus where they have no business being.”
Alsop said the bill could include a number of significant exemptions.
“You couldn’t come and have a holster revealed, you couldn’t have any part of the weapon that would be revealed,” Alsop said. “If you would do that on an intentional, knowing basis, you would still have the right to say, ‘You need to leave.'”
Additionally filtering out potential legal carriers, out-of-state students under the age of 21 won’t be able to carry on campus.
“To get a provisional permit, if you are between the ages of 18 to 20, you have to be a West Virginia resident,” Alsop said.
Students older than 21 that have a permit from a state with a reciprocity agreement with West Virginia will be able to carry, according to Alsop. 35 states have that agreement with West Virginia.
“You could be from another state if you are over 21 if we have that reciprocity provision,” he said.
Additionally, there will be exemptions for athletic facilities with a capacity of more than 1,000 people, daycare facilities, University Police facilities, and individual offices for employees.
“That would protect all of our athletic facilities and our large performance venue at the Creative Arts Center,” Alsop said.
Alsop added: “That’s what we could consider to be a safe zone. If a faculty member does not want someone to bring a weapon, concealed or otherwise into that office, they ought to have the right to say no.”
Further exemptions could include when WVU leases out space to private entities, campus residential dorm rooms, and K-12 events.
Dorm common areas, Alsop clarified, would not be part of the exemptions.
A number of law enforcement officials expressed concerns during public hearings last week, suggesting H.B. 2519 would increase costs due to necessary security measures.
Everytown for Gun Safety, a group that advocates for gun-safety, estimates the bill could cost the state $11.6 million in the first year.
A fiscal note from the higher education system suggests the cost would be $10.3 million initially and then about $11.6 with full implementation.
The bill narrowly passed out of House Judiciary earlier this week.
There was a second reference to House Finance, but delegates voted on Wednesday evening to take the bill straight to the floor.