MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The campus carry bill seems almost certainly dead, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be future battles.
West Virginia University President Gordon Gee said Wednesday the administration at the state’s land-grant institution will remain prepared, even suggesting that WVU will take a different approach in the future.
“I think that we will probably go head-to-head (with the NRA) on this issue,” Gee said on on MetroNews “Talkline” with Hoppy Kercheval. “I’m not certain that, you know, given what has happened, negotiations would be fruitful. And, so, I think that the University and college and higher education, I think everyone was clear in their statements — our faculty, our staff, our students.”
During the drafting and subsequent debate of the Campus Self Defense Act, H.B. 2519, West Virginia University made it known that they were opposed to removing local control over the issue of campus carry from their Board of Governors. But, during that process, university officials worked with legislators in an attempt to avoid a “raw bill” — believing that there was a significant chance H.B. 2519 could pass both chambers of the legislature.
“We knew entering into this legislative session that there was substantial support for the bill both in the House in the Senate,” Gee said. “We didn’t want to be left with a raw bill.”
The House of Delegates passed the bill 59-41 last week after vigorous debate.
A number of exemptions were worked into the legislation, including exemptions related to athletic venues, daycare facilities, WVU Police facilities, single-occupancy offices, and surrounding age requirements.
“Our belief was that we would run a parallel process,” Gee said. “We’ve always stated very clearly that we believe in local governance and local control. We have a Board of Governors, and this is there issue.”
“We also believe,” Gee added,” that it’s important to make certain that safety is our number one priority at the institution. So those were the issues that we brought forward.”
Sen. Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, was one of two Republicans to vote with seven Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee in effectively ending the life-cycle of H.B. 2519.
“I think that we could find a way forward for an issue like this that doesn’t take away the ability to take away that campuses right to have their own policies and figure out how they should manage their own campus and their student body and their staff,” the majority whip said. “But, still, have people be able to exercise their Second Amendment right.”
“The college should find their own pathway forward on it and not have it dictated to them from Charleston,” Weld said. “We dictate too much in this state from Charleston, and that would have just been one more on the heap.”
Sen. Charles Clements, R-Wetzel, joined Weld and Democrats Stephen Baldwin, Bob Beach, Paul Hardesty, Glenn Jeffries, Richard Lindsay, Mike Romano, and Mike Woelfel in opposition on the committee.