Republican West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed Senate bill 10, known as the Campus Self-Defense Act, into law Wednesday morning, saying it will “strengthen Second Amendment protections in West Virginia,” according to a livestream of the signing.
The law, backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), passed through the West Virginia House of Delegates 84 to 13 last week, and will override the authority of the Higher Education Policy Commission, the Council for Community and Technical College Education and the institutional boards of governors that restricted concealed carry holders from possessing firearms on campus, according to the legislation. The bill passed the West Virginia legislature just days after the Michigan State University (MSU) shooting, and those who opposed the legislation held a town hall, with one student saying people are already “terrified on campus as it is.”
“We need to stand rock solid by who we are and by the Second Amendment and all the greatness that we are in this great state and then send the message to the world, by God if you wanna mess with us, we can mess back,” Justice said during the signing.
The law will provide further protection for concealed carry holders who previously could have faced expulsion or termination for bringing firearms on to campus, according to the legislation.
Governor Jim Justice has signed the West Virginia Campus Carry Bill, SB 10.
Peaceable people pursuing higher education will be able to carry on campus and no longer be defenseless. pic.twitter.com/bhDqsfzrPu
— Firearms Policy Coalition (@gunpolicy) March 1, 2023
“The Campus Self-Defense Act recognizes the fact that danger doesn’t disappear just because you’ve stepped onto campus grounds,” NRA West Virginia State Director Art Thomm said in a release. “Now, those who choose to exercise the right will have the ability to protect themselves, their classmates, and their loved ones should they need.”
The legislation was passed by the West Virginia legislature after the MSU shooting in February, where three people were killed and five others were injured by 43-year-old Anthony Dwayne McRae.
McRae had previously been arrested for a felony gun charge, but the charges were later dropped by a left-wing district attorney. The 43-year-old shooter would have been barred from owning a gun if he had been sentenced for carrying a concealed weapon without a license.
Republican Delegate Mike Honaker, who previously served as a Virginia State Police (VSP) officer and responded to the 2007 Virginia Tech campus shooting, noted that he supports the bill, but said “we have to be careful about this issue,” according to Fox News.
“There’s no way that I, as someone who has lived through this and seen it with my own eyes, could forbid another free law-abiding American citizen from carrying a firearm and retaining the ability and the capacity to defend yourself or others, God forbid they ever be put in a position to do it,” he continued.
The law will go into effect July 1, 2024.
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