Senators Charles Clements, Ryan Weld Explain Votes Against Campus Carry Bill

Two West Virginia senators who voted to kill the “campus carry” bill late Tuesday said they did so because they believe colleges and universities should make their own decisions on the matter and because few people spoke to them in favor of the bill.

“The Campus Self Defense Act,” House Bill 2519, would have permitted a person who holds a valid license to carry a concealed deadly weapon to carry a concealed pistol or revolver on the campuses at state colleges and universities.

The bill would have placed limits on concealed carry privileges where organized events were taking place, at day care facilities on campuses, in campus areas used by law enforcement and in some other campus spaces.

HB 2519 died in the Senate Judiciary Committee on a vote of 8-7 with Senate Majority Whip Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, and Sen. Charles Clements, R-Wetzel, joining Democrats in opposition to the measure.

“The school administration are all against it, the teachers are against it, and the majority of students are against it,” Clements said. “It seems what we were looking for was a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”

Clements said he spoke with West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee and understood the position of the higher education community. Officials told legislators that permitting concealed carrying of weapons on college and university campuses would lead to unsafe situations.

“I support the Second Amendment, but I suspect the genesis of this thing came from the NRA (National Rifle Association),” Clements said. “That’s why it was brought up.

“If all are against it, why vote for it? It was not a hard vote for me at all.”

Weld said his vote had to do with the issue of local governance, and his belief the schools would do best to regulate the issue of concealed carry themselves.

“The best decisions are made at the lowest end of government,” he said. “We dictate way too much from Charleston. …

“I’m not opposed to college students being able to exercise their Second Amendment rights, but we were removing the school’s ability to regulate. If West Liberty University or WVU wants to allow students or staff to exercise their rights, it should be within their purview to find policies that work for them. My vote on that bill was about local control.”

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