The West Virginia Legislature is an interesting place. As Alice observed when she first arrived in Wonderland: “Curiouser and curiouser.”

Take HB 2519, the Campus Self Defense Act, or Campus Carry, as it was commonly called. The bill would allow an individual with a concealed carry permit to carry a gun on college and university campuses in West Virginia with exemptions.

WVU read sentiment of the largely gun rights legislature and decided to work with the National Rifle Association and bill supporters to carve out exceptions to where a person could have a gun on campus rather than try to kill the bill.

However, Mercer County Republican Delegate and Judiciary Committee Chairman John Shott emerged as a strong opponent. Shott has two colleges in his home county—Bluefield State and Concord—and he decided to fight the bill procedurally.

As Dominion Post reporter David Beard explained, Shott moved in the Rules Committee, which determines the agenda for the floor session, to shift the bill to the inactive calendar. That surprising motion passed 10-8, thus killing the bill… but only for the moment.

Later on the floor, House Majority Leader Amy Summers tried to bring the bill back to the active calendar. However, that motion needed a two-thirds vote, and it failed 59-40.

There was lots of speculation at the Capitol that Campus Carry was dead. However, to borrow from Mark Twain after rumors of his death circulated, the reports were “greatly exaggerated.”

The House had a long floor session, and then in late afternoon the Rules Committee met again. This time the outcome was 11-9 to return the bill to the active calendar and schedule for a vote on third reading.

The action was even more significant because Wednesday was crossover day, the deadline for bills to emerge from the originating chamber.  The House went back into session last night and, after nearly four hours of emotional debate by those for and against the bill as the midnight deadline closed in, passed out Campus Carry 59-41.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

So you see how it goes under the Capitol Dome. Certainties are rare. Predictions of outcomes should always include disclaimers. True, some of the odd turns are the result of arm twisting and closed-door dealings, but often there is simply an element of chaos associated with 134 human beings, all with varying viewpoints and different agendas.

Again, a Mark Twain reference: “Those that respect the law and love sausage should watch neither being made.”

 

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