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WVU student leaders among those against campus carry bill


Students leaders at West Virginia University are among those expressing concern about the Campus Carry bill moving through the state Senate.

The Campus Self Defense Act, SB 10, has passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is headed to the Senate floor. If passed and signed by the governor, the bill would allow those with concealed firearm permits to carry on college or university campuses.

The West Virginia University Student Government Association (SGA) passed a proclamation Wednesday opposing the bill.

SGA Vice President Pareera Uqaily said if the bill becomes law it would have unintended consequences and complicate campus life for many.

“RAs (resident assistants) in residence halls … had overarching safety concerns about enforcing those restrictions that are mentioned in Senate Bill 10,” Uqaily said during a Thursday appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.” “There were also mental health concerns, detracting from a healthy learning

According to the SGA proclamation, decisions on guns should be made at the campus level by executive leadership.

Uqaily said students and faculty will likely consider the possibility of someone being armed in future decisions the groups make.

“It was highlighted that faculty would be concerned about potentially even handing out grades to students, knowing that they might carry a firearm or students knowing that if there was an incident where there is a conflict and not knowing if that student has a firearm,” she said.

National Rifle Association State Director of Legislative Affairs Art Thomm believes the bill enhances safety by allowing people to make their own decisions. Many people would be protected by the legislation who, in the past, may have been sanctioned for legally carrying a firearm for protection, Thomm said.

He explained previously, students and faculty who may face disciplinary action up to and including expulsion or termination for choosing to protect themselves would now be permitted to carry a gun.

Sen. Mike Caputo, D-Marion, said adding guns to campus life creates possibilities that could be viewed by some as reckless. He also referred to the enforcement that would be required by institutions they may not be ready for.

“Things happen — sometimes there’s a lot of partying going on, and sometimes things get out of hand,” Caputo said. “Guns should not be in the pockets of those kids, and I think this is going to be an absolute enforcement nightmare for these universities.”

The SGA and Caputo also said passage into law could create even more challenges for staffing and enrollment in the post-pandemic economy. Caputo believes law enforcement, universities and the public at large were not given a fair chance to voice their opposition or support for the measure.

“It’s concerning to a lot of parents, and I just don’t know why we, down here, think we know better than the people who run the day-to-day operations,” Caputo said.