CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) – Governor Jim Justice has signed the controversial campus carry bill, which aims to strengthen 2nd amendment protections in the state, into law.

The bill, also called the Campus Self-Defense Act, will allow adults 21 years and older to carry handguns on college campuses as long as they have a valid permit. The West Virginia Legislature held a public hearing on Senate Bill 10, or the Campus Self-Defense Act, on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023.

After the Senate bill passed in the House of Delegates in an 84-13 vote, it went to Governor Justice’s desk to be signed into law. The Governor was vocal in his support of signing the bill throughout the process, until his signing on March 1, 2023.

“I’m proud to sign the Campus Self-Defense Act which will strengthen 2nd Amendment protections in West Virginia. West Virginia now joins 11 other U.S. states, including Texas and Utah, that have had this legislation for years. I’ve always said I will do everything I can to protect West Virginia’s 2nd Amendment rights, and with this law, West Virginia will continue to be a national leader. I sincerely thank the Legislature for passing this bill overwhelmingly and the National Rifle Association for their support.”

Governor Jim Justice (R-WV)

Now that Senate bill 10 is law, West Virginia is the twelfth U.S. state to require public universities to allow weapons on campus in some form or fashion. Other states include:

  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Mississippi
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Wisconsin

Senate bill 10 is strikingly similar to the previously proposed House bill 2519. Both bills have heavy opposition by college campuses, from both students and faculty alike.

In fact, many local universities have already released statements about their opposition to the bill.

The National Rifle Association joined West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice today for the signing of the bill. They say that it is NRA-backed legislation that ensures law-abiding adults may exercise their right to self-defense when visiting or attending a college campus.

“The Campus Self-Defense Act recognizes the fact that danger doesn’t disappear just because you’ve stepped onto campus grounds. 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 NRA thanks Gov. Justice for signing this bill, Sen. Phillips for his sponsorship, as well as the tens of thousands of NRA members and supporters throughout West Virginia who pushed to make this law a reality.”

NRA’s West Virginia State Director Art Thomm

Previous state law did not prohibit carrying of a defensive firearm on campus, but institution policy could allow for expulsion or termination of employment.

The bill includes several exceptions which allow higher education institutions to regulate where permit holders may carry on their campus including at sports facilities, daycares, health facilities, and residence halls.

The bill only permits the concealed carrying of a pistol or revolver.

Licenses to carry a concealed weapon are issued by the State of West Virginia pursuant to §61-7-4§61-7-4a, or recognized by §61-7-6a of the WV Code.

The law will go into effect on July 1, 2024.