A Silver Bullet to WV SB10 Campus Carry

Nicolas Raffinengo, Opinion Contributor

Last week, the West Virginia Senate passed SB10, a legislation which seeks to allow students to conceal carry guns around colleges and universities across the state, with little exceptions to the policies on where concealed carry would be prohibited.   This policy has passed with overwhelming support in the WV Senate, but is lacking key support from the institutions which would be tasked with upholding the law:notably, West Virginia University and Marshall University, both of whom’s students, faculty and administration have come out against the legislation en masse. With such stark contradiction between what the people at these institutions want versus the legislators of West Virginia, why is it that higher education institutions are opposed to concealed carry, when, around the state, it is allowed with proper permits? The answer seems to come down to two key points: primarily, the safety of students and faculty as well as the cost impact to campuses.

Firstly, and most importantly, the safety of students on campus is of utmost concern. While legislators in the State Senate, most notably Sen. Rupie Phillips (R-Logan) who sponsored the legislation, have come out and have stated that the bill is to protect the children of the state from violence, or more specifically domestic and sexual violence, this argument is not backed by overwhelming data. The Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center at the University of Michigan found in a report that “college-aged women (between 16-24) have the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence. Twenty-one percent of college students report having experienced dating violence by a current partner, and 32% of college students report experiencing dating violence by a previous partner.” But while this statistic is alarming, the solution that Phillips is providing with concealed arms is not the solution. The American Public Health Association reports that “abusers and firearms are a deadly combination, as the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation actually increases the risk of homicide by 500%.” Even in the cases of solely sexual assault, a gun owned by the victim has no effect on stopping the assault, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Another prevalent argument by supporters of the legislation is that of being the “good guy with the gun against the bad guy with a gun.” This rarely is the case as Hollywood movies may paint the picture, with increases in violence through shootings or homicides and an increase in suicides as reported in a 2016 report by the John Hopkins School of Public Health. The report further states that there is no decrease in school shootings with the presence of campus carry. If anything, having students on campus trying to be a vigilante in an emergency could lead to more casualties, decreased effective response time from the authorities or themselves getting shot by cops or others.  In one Google search, the majority of results show stories in which cops have killed the “good guy” in an accident, the “good guy” harms or kills others by mistake or makes it harder for the authorities to stop the emergency.

The other concern regarding the legislation, if we completely disregard the mountain of statistics that prove this legislation is a bad idea, is the cost burden on the colleges and universities of West Virginia, with no allocated funding plan in the legislation and possible further decrease in enrollment. The Register Herald reported last week that “the cost for implementation would be $11.6 million in its first year alone.” This cost increase coupled with the fact that other states that implemented campus carry saw a noticeable decrease in enrollment, with Colorado seeing a 5.8% decrease after campus carry, according to PolitiFact, means that West Virginia higher education will have to adapt with higher tuitions or cutting costs, both of which are negative effects to the students and faculty at these institutions.

To the West Virginia legislators, I find it imperative to shoot down bad legislation because good legislation is not one where you arm the students with 9 mm handguns, but knowledge. Stand with the educators and students of the state and vote against this policy to continue to make our campuses in West Virginia “Wild and Wonderful” rather than “Worse and Wreckful.” 

Nicolas Raffinengo is a sophomore double-majoring in political science and business. He is a Student Government Association senator, a Yeager Scholar and a presidential ambassador.