Justice to sign campus carry bill

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Feb. 23—Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday he will "proudly" sign Senate Bill 10, the Campus Self-Defense Act, now that it has passed both the House and Senate.

"I know it is controversial," he said. "But from my standpoint, I stand rock solid with our Second Amendment."

Justice said during his weekly virtual administration briefing that it also a matter of providing a layer of security.

"We see all across this nation where we have bad actors and bad actors doing stuff at a lot of our school campuses," he said of mass shootings. "We see buildings that are soft targets with no firearms allowed."

Ohio and Texas have had "campus carry" for years and years, he said.

The bill will allow college students who have obtained a conceal carry permit to have a concealed weapon in most areas of the campus.

Exceptions include carrying a weapon at organized event in a stadium or area with a capacity of more than 1,000 people; at a daycare facility located on the property of the state institution of higher education; in the secure area of any building used by a law-enforcement agency on the property of the state institution for higher education; or in an area of the property of the state institution of higher education that has adequate security measures in place to ensure that pistols or revolvers are not carried by the public into the area.

Students would also not be allowed to carry a weapon in "sole occupancy office," like an instructor's office or in residence halls except common areas such as lounges, dining areas and study areas. No weapon can be carried that is openly visible.

Justice said he "strongly" believes in the bill and when it comes to his desk he will sign it "in just a few seconds."

"I believe people who have conceal carry permits are law-abiding, good people with rock solid credentials," he said. "It (the bill) may save a bunch of lives."

Opposition from state university presidents centered around safety, mental health considerations and the financial burden related to campus storage and other stipulations.

West Virginia will join 11 other states that have passed campus carry in some form.

During his briefing, Justice also signed House Bill 2412, establishing Nov. 14 as a remembrance day honoring the 75 who perished when the plane carrying the Marshall University football team crashed on Nov. 14, 1970, on a return trip from playing East Carolina.

"I salute everyone for doing this," he said of legislators. "It was a really sad day and we should never forget it."

Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice were both students at Marshall when the tragedy occurred.

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com