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Bad actors with malign intent may want to reconsider drawing down on students in West Virginia; granted, they may soon find themselves amongst gunslingers.
The Republican-controlled West Virginia House of Delegates passed Senate Bill 10, the "Campus Self-Defense Act," on Tuesday, which would enable students, staff, and guests with concealed carry permits to pack heat on university and college campuses.
Gov. Jim Justice (R) told reporters Wednesday that he will sign the bill into law "in seconds" once it reaches his desk.
What are the details?
State Sen. Rupert Phillips Jr. introduced the bill on Jan. 11, seeking to:
- enable the carriage of a "concealed pistol or revolver by a person who holds a current license to carry a concealed deadly weapon";
- authorize "regulation or restriction on the carrying of concealed pistols or revolvers in certain circumstances or areas of an institution of higher education" such as areas with a capacity of over 1,000 spectators or nearby on-campus day care centers; and
- eliminate the "authority of the Higher Education Policy Commission, the Council for Community and Technical College Education, and the institutional boards of governors to restrict or regulate the carrying of concealed pistols or revolvers in certain circumstances or areas of an institution of higher education."
The owner of the firearm must have a concealed carry permit if 21 or older or a provisional concealed carry permit if between the ages of 18 and 20.
While concealed carry is permitted, the bill prohibits the open carry of a firearm on campus.
"The (bill) clarifies that state institutions of higher education may not restrict a trained individual from carrying a handgun," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Moore Capito (R).
The Inter-Mountain reported that it passed in an 84-13 vote.
Republican House Speaker Roger Hanshaw and Del. Erikka Storch (R-Ohio) voted against the bill. Del. Elliott Pritt stood apart from his Democratic peers and supported the bill.
Del. Mike Honaker (R), among those who supporting the legislation, recalled the sight of blood that masked the floor of Norris Hall in the aftermath of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting that claimed the lives of 32 people, reported the Associated Press.
The former state trooper had to notify parents that their children had been killed.
"Please hear me: Years ago, I sat on the foot of my bed with Windex and paper towels and I washed the blood of almost 30 kids off of my shoes because of an active shooter on a college campus," said Honaker. "I fear that if I do not support this legislation, and it happens again, washing their blood off my shoes will not compare to trying to wash the blood off of my hands."
Honaker noted that "this isn’t just a policy issue, even though it is a policy issue. ... What makes it even more weighty is it is in fact a constitutional issue. We cannot escape that."
Democratic Del. John Williams wasn't convinced the bill was worthwhile, stating, "A false assumption that I think we’re making is that every single one of these folks that’s going to be carrying a gun on campus is going to be Clint Eastwood, ready to fight."
Williams appears to have discounted the fact that while not every single armed student may be "ready to fight," all it takes is one to stop a killer in his tracks.
TheBlaze previously reported that an armed citizen managed to shut down what may have otherwise turned into a massacre last week at an El Paso mall. Lawfully-armed Emanuel Duran, 32, shot an individual who had allegedly killed one man and badly injured three others at the Cielo Vista Mall.
WTRF-TV reported that Gov. Jim Justice (R) is ready to sign the "Campus Self-Defense Act."
"God forbid, it may very well be that we got somebody on that campus that has a firearm and something bad starts to happen and everything. It may safe a bunch of lives," said Justice.
The governor underscored that he supports the Second Amendment and the right of law abiding "good people" to have firearms.
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Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.