WVU opposes House bill that would permit concealed carry on campus

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University’s official stance: they don’t want concealed firearms on the campus.

“We think we’re in the best position, through our Board of Governors, to make those determinations,” said Rob Alsop, the school’s VP for Strategic Initiatives said Friday on “Talkline” with Hoppy Kercheval. “We also have a lot of areas on our campus where we don’t think that the presence of concealed weapons is a good thing.”

House Bill 4298 is on it’s way to the Judiciary Committee following a brief stint in Education. The bill would prevent the Higher Education Policy Commission from preventing a person’s ability to concealed carry on West Virginia’s college campuses.

“Putting a weapon, or additional weapons on campus, in any of those situations does not make it safer,” Alsop said. “It makes it more likely that someone could get a hold of a gun or do something to escalate a situation.”

There would be exceptions, including stadiums or arena with more than 5,000 spectators — including Mountaineer Field and the WVU Coliseum. Additional exceptions are granted to daycare facilities on campus and secure areas used by law enforcement.

“You could go through a list of a number of areas that we believe we should be able to make that determination as it relates to guns on campus,” Alsop said.

He also said the exceptions in H.B. 4298 fail to cover Monongalia County Ballpark and Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium — home of the Mountaineer baseball and men’s and women’s soccer teams respectively.

“We have a top notch, nationally-competitive soccer program,” Alsop said. “We have a baseball program that’s up and coming. Both of those venues are under 5,000.”

The bill hopes to act as a deterrent against potential mass shooters, but WVU Police Chief Bob Roberts said that’s often not the case. He testified to the House Education committee Friday morning, coming out against the bill.

“Statistics aren’t the issue here,” Roberts said. “Risk is the issue here.”

He said studies indicate that the “good guy with the gun” is usually not the one to end an active shooter situation.

“160 different shootings: there was one that was ended by a person who had a concealed carry, and he was a Marine,” Roberts said. “There were four or five that were ended by security guards and off-duty police officers. There were 21 that were ended by unarmed citizens.”

Alsop concurred, reminding people that it can often be difficult during an active crime scene or active shooting scenario to figure out who the “good guys” and the “bad guys” actually may be.

“Our chief often says, the folks who are trying to do good with a gun don’t wear a white hat and the folks who want to do danger with a gun don’t wear a black hat.”

Roberts also said this would likely only exacerbate the three most common campus crimes: theft, vandalism, and simple assaults.

“Not one of those three will be solved by campus carry,” he said. “You can’t justify using a weapon on any one of those three. While in the two areas we make the most arrests in — alcohol and drugs — is that another place that you want to have firearms? Logic will tell you no.”

Amendments to the bill will be taken up by the House Judiciary Committee.

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