W.Va. House tables measure to allow concealed carry on campuses

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — UPDATE (Feb. 27):

The West Virginia House suspended action on a bill Wednesday that would allow people with concealed weapon permits to carry guns on college campuses.

Mason County Republican Del. Jim Butler's bill would carve out exemptions for schools to ban firearms from stadiums with more than 1,000 seats, daycare centers and campus law enforcement buildings. He couldn't be immediately be reached by phone or email after lawmakers moved the legislation to an inactive calendar but has said the proposal would make campuses safer.

Opponents argued the legislation would endanger students. West Virginia University leaders opposed the bill and students there have protested the measure. Marshall University also is against it.

"Nobody wants this. Nobody asked for this," said Tom Sura, a writing professor at WVU who was one of many college staffers who came to the Capitol to lobby against the bill.

Sabrina Thomas, an instruction and research librarian at Marshall University, said college administrators should be allowed to set their own rules about bringing guns to campus.

"I want to have the right to say 'not in my classroom,'" she said.

At a public hearing earlier this month, Concord University Police Officer David Eldridge said his department would have to hire 13 additional officers and purchase multiple metal detectors if the bill became law.

The National Conference of State Legislatures said 10 other states allow for concealed carrying on colleges campuses.



West Virginia lawmakers have heard public comments on legislation that would require colleges to allow people who have concealed weapons permits to carry weapons on campuses.

The House judiciary committee held a public hearing on the bill Monday.

Concord Police Officer David Eldridge says his department would have to hire 13 additional officers and purchase multiple metal detectors if the bill passes. It would cost the department $726,000 in the first year.

West Virginia University education professor Sara Anderson says concealed weapons on campus would "bring intimidation into the classroom."

National Rifle Association lobbyist Art Thomm said the bill empowers people to protect themselves. He says "denying women their right to self-protection leaves them vulnerable to attack."

Among the bill's exceptions includes daycare centers, campus police headquarters and events in sports arenas with more than 1,500 seats.