West Virginia House of Delegates Bill 2519, also known as the Campus Self Defense Act, is a chance for the West Virginia Legislature to right a wrong caused by a discriminatory policy by Board of Governors of every four-year institution in the state of West Virginia.
It is not expressly illegal to carry on campus. Students and employees of the University could face punishment by the University if caught carrying on campus. However, people not associated with the University would only face criminal charges if they were asked to leave campus and do not comply. They would then be charged with misdemeanor trespassing. This is the policy for all private organizations in the state as well.
The Board of Governors of every four-year institution in the state of West Virginia are directly violating the West Virginia and United States constitutions and Supreme Court precedent.
The Supreme Court Case Tinker v. Des Moines held that students and employees of schools do not lose their rights when they enter on school property. This has been upheld in court cases for 60 years and has been used to incorporate every other right in schools — except for the Second Amendment.
So, the question becomes, what provision allows for the Board of Governors, an unelected body not responsive to any constituency, to restrict the rights of the many?
There has never been an incident at any university that specifically allows students and faculty to carry concealed on campus.
In fact, according to the Washington Examiner, assaults on the University of Kansas went down 50 percent and overall violent crime fell by 16 percent the year after campus carry was passed.
Ironically enough, House Bill 2519 would actually restrict gun laws on campus. Currently, there are no legal repercussions for carrying on campus, with or without a permit. However, the bill would only allow valid permit holders to carry concealed on campus.
The claim that this would be far too expensive for the University and other four-year higher learning institutions in the state is unsubstantiated. The current Board of Governors rule restricting firearms on campus is not enforced now. So why would the University suddenly decide to enforce a new rule?
The opposition also cites that many students suffer from mental illnesses that would compound the problem. However, those who suffer from mental illnesses are still afforded the same rights as everyone else.
Drug and alcohol abuse is another issue outlined by the opposition. However, only around 15 percent of students live on the West Virginia University campus. This issue is not isolated to campus. There are many more students who abuse drugs and alcohol off campus where firearms are already legal.
Much of the opposition to the bill has been based around irrational arguments and statistics from a seriously flawed report by Johns Hopkins regarding campus carry.
Campus carry is not a call to arms. Every student is not going to be carrying a concealed firearm on campus if this bill were to pass.
The law and statistics are on the side of campus carry. Our own mascot carries a gun. Why should that right be taken away from everyone else?