Campus Carry Bill Passes the House of Delegates

Matthew Schaffer, News Editor

Senate Bill 10, or the Campus Self-Defense Act, passed the state House of Delegates on Tuesday despite protests, attempted amendments and opposition from colleges, students and citizens with the Republican supermajority voting overwhelmingly in support of the bill. 

The Campus Self-Defense Act, which will allow for concealed carry of handguns for valid license holders on college campuses statewide, passed in a floor vote of 84 to 13 and will now head to Governor Jim Justice’s desk to be signed into law.

Delegates representing Huntington were split along party lines. Delegates Sean Honbuckle (D-025) and Ric Griffith (D-027) voting nay, while Republican Delegates Matthew Rohrbach (D-024) and Patrick Lucas (D-026) voting yea.

Marshall University and West Virginia University had representation at the bill’s first and only public hearing on Feb. 15, speaking primarily in opposition to the bill.  Thirty-seven of the 39 speakers who signed up to speak at the public hearing spoke against it.

Attempts to amend the bill also failed this week after Del. Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell, and Del. Evan Hansen, D-Mongolia, proposed amendments that would have offered two further revisions to the bill.

Hornbuckle’s amendment would have provided housing options for students who do not want to reside in residence halls where guns were present, while Hansen’s amendment would have prohibited provisional concealed carry license holders, ages 18-21, from carrying on campuses. 

The Campus Self-Defense Act was introduced by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 11, 2023 and passed the West Virginia State Senate with a majority vote of 29-4 on Jan. 24. The bill was met with objection by Marshall President Brad D. Smith and West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee, as announced in a joint statement that was released the day following its Senate passage.

“While we do not support statewide campus carry, we do appreciate the Senate retaining best practices and safeguards from other states in the bill,” the statement read. “We hope the House of Delegates will keep these provisions intact as it considers the legislation. The provisions are critical to the safety of our university communities.” 

While the bill is expected to become law, the provision in the bill that will delay implementation until July 2024 remains intact.