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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice Signs Campus Carry Into Law

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has signed campus carry into law.

The Campus Self-Defense Act allows law-abiding permit holders to carry on state college campuses.

“Proud day for me,” Gov. Justice said as he signed the bill on Wednesday.

The governor pointed out that people were already carrying weapons on campus illegally, but now law-abiding people can do the same.

“For crying out loud, the doors are wide open,” he said. “This is just saying the law-abiding people have a right to be able to carry if they choose to do so. We just hope and pray that there’s never a problem. We can’t ensure in any way that there won’t be a problem.”

Justice said the law will “send a message to the world, by God , if you want to mess with us, we can mess back.”

Under the new law, the Higher Education Policy Commission, the Council for Community and Technical College Education, and the institutional boards of governors lose their ability to regulate or restrict the carrying of firearms on higher-education campuses.

When the bill passed the state’s House of Delegates at the end of February, Governor Justice vowed to sign it “in a matter of seconds” from when it hit his desk for a signature.

The legislation had been endorsed and supported by the National Rifle Association and their Institute for Legislative Action.

“Current state law does not prohibit carrying of a defensive firearm on campus, but institution policy may lead to expulsion or termination of employment,” the NRA said of the bill. “Adults who are officially licensed to carry a firearm for self-defense should not be prevented from doing so just because they seek higher education.”

West Virginia University President Gordon Gee will form a campus safety group, according to a report from the Associated Press.

“Today we must come together to focus clearly on what is most important to all of us — keeping our students, faculty, staff, visitors and community members safe while on our campuses,” Gee said in a statement. “That has always been, and will remain, our utmost priority.”

West Virginia is now the 12th state to allow campus carry. The law will take effect in July 2024.

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