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Jonathan Joy: W.Va. doesn’t need campus carry

Staff WriterMay 19, 2019

No one needs to be lectured on the continual contemporary threats of gun violence that surround us. We college employees have undergone countless training to prepare for the worst, while our elementary school age children hide under desks in practice active shooter drills. We are all, age 8 or 78, on constant alert, especially in schools.

Thoughts and prayers falling short, West Virginia legislators seek solace in a campus carry bill that will only result in worsening the problem under the false guise of giving us better control over our own fate. As a result, those same lawmakers have escalated an already tense situation.

Campus carry is a terrible idea, and there is a solid reason college administrators, college faculty, college students and police statewide are overwhelmingly opposed to it. Studies and common sense dictate that more guns will lead to more violence, be it purposeful or accidental (more likely the latter).

Legislators in the House conceded the bill to be more about appeasing outside interests (the NRA) than protecting anyone, which is particularly troubling given how much West Virginians don’t want campus carry to be law. And while the NRA’s “good guy with a gun” trope works well in action movies, this is real life. Real life doesn’t play out like “Die Hard.”

A college classroom is not an action movie and it’s not a political tool. It is certainly not a place for conservative Wild West fantasies run amok. It is, by definition, a place to teach, learn, discuss ideas and prepare for the future. Some serious students in search of a safer and more focused academic environment will likely leave West Virginia if campus carry is enacted.

It’s not just college students being pushed away, either. Consequently, programs involving K-12 children (there are quite a few) will possibly end or be significantly curtailed due to liability concerns over the increased danger campus carry naturally brings with it.

There have always existed certain exceptions to the Second Amendment, from the time of the Founding Fathers to now. Lots of them. One such exclusion involves the presence of guns in government buildings. Members of the West Virginia Legislature and, eventually perhaps, Governor Jim Justice will make a decision on this bill from the comfort of halls and offices and chambers and House and Senate floors where guns are not permitted because they all know that setup is safer than the alternative. To demand the same level of security for my students and my colleagues is not only reasonable, but a vital part of my job.

I stand with the majority of West Virginians in opposition to Campus Carry.

Jonathan Joy is a Marshall University graduate, a Huntington resident, and an English Professor at Ashland Community and Technical College in Ashland, Kentucky.

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