CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The campus carry bill, House Bill 2519, suffered a possibly fatal blow Tuesday when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted it down 7-9.
Two Republicans joined with seven Democrats in voting against the measure.
Senators still could move to have the vote reconsidered or have it discharged from committee, but Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, said he doesn’t expect that to happen.
Action on the bill – officially the Campus Self Defense Act – was long delayed. It was at the bottom of the committee’s 4 p.m. agenda after being held over on Monday. The committee handled other bills and didn’t get to it until after the Senate’s evening floor session around 8:30 p.m.
Once they started, action on the bill took only about 20 minutes. The committee took up an amended version of what came over from the House, but it had no major changes, just technical revisions.
There was no debate or discussion. Committee Chairman Charles Trump, R-Morgan, called for the customary voice but, but couldn’t make a clear call.
He then called for a show of hands. Republicans Mike Azinger, Greg Boso, Sue Cline, Mark Maynard, Patricia Rucker, Randy Smith and Trump voted “aye.”
Republicans Charles Clements and vice-chair Ryan Weld joined with Democrats Stephen Baldwin, Bob Beach, Paul Hardesty, Glenn Jeffries, Richard Lindsay, Mike Romano and Mike Woelfel in opposition. Majority Leader Tom Takubo was absent, attending another meeting, but it’s been reported he opposed it unless the campus carry age was raised to 21 years old.
University officials and campus police officers were among those in the audience awaiting the vote.
“We’re super excited, as all the institutions across the state are. Every institution’s been lobbying against it,” Fairmont State University Police Chief Matt Swain said. “When we can all agree on one thing, I think that speaks volumes.”
FSU President Mirta Martin called the vote “a day to rejoice in West Virginia.”
WVU’s Rob Alsop, vice president for strategic initiatives, was also there.
“We’ll watch and see the rest of the session what happens,” he said.
“We’re really pleased that the committee really listened to those concerns,” he added. “All you can ask for is that legislators listen to those concerns.”
Carmichael was monitoring the action and paused on his way over to the West Wing to comment.
“There were some members that had a lot of reservations about it,” he said. “We allowed everybody, as they should, to make their own decision on the bill.
The Republican caucus didn’t take a formal position on it.
“Some of the members felt that it wasn’t the right time or the right format to implement this policy,” Carmichael added.
“These are issues that transcend partisan divide. I’m proud of the committee and the decision they came to. I trust the committee process. I was personally supportive of the bill, but this was not something that was mandated from the Senate president’s office, for sure.”
Asked if he expected efforts to revive it, he said, “No, I do not.”
HB 2519 would allow, with specified provisos and exceptions, people with concealed carry permits to carry weapons on college campuses.