Bill could allow concealed carry for faculty on campuses

Universities would not be able govern carrying for those with permits

nsvastatecapitol2courtesywikimediacommons

The bill would allow full-time faculty members of public institutions of higher education who possess a valid Virginia concealed handgun permit to carry a concealed handgun on campus.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The Virginia General Assembly recently offered House Bill 79, a bill which would permit concealed carry by full-time faculty members at public institutions of higher education, regardless of whether the institution objects.

The bill drew attention from Virginia House Democrats, who included the bill on their “Terrible Bill Watch List” for the 2016 session, according to a release from the Augusta Free Press.

The bill, pre-filed in December by House Republicans Robert G. Marshall and Mark L. Cole, would allow full-time faculty members of public institutions of higher education who possess a valid Virginia concealed handgun permit to carry a concealed handgun on campus.

In Virginia, a concealed handgun permit can be obtained by taking an online training class consisting of an instructional video and a multiple-choice test.

According to the current University Policy Directory, the possession, storage or use of any weapon by any University student, faculty, employee, trainee or volunteer — except a law enforcement officer — on University property is prohibited.

Students have mixed feelings about what the bill could mean for the University community.

Jay Boyd, a fourth-year College student and College Republicans chairman, said he believes this bill would increase safety on campus.

“These are administrators who we already trust,” Boyd said. “This only increases their ability to protect us.”

As long as someone has passed a concealed carry permit test and has obtained a permit, they are just as legally able to possess a gun as any individual with a regular gun license, Boyd said.

“The administrators can act in defense of their students and themselves, and the greater University, due to the use of their concealed handguns, which they do possess legally,” Boyd said.

However, Sam Tobin, third-year College student and University Democrats president, said he believes more guns on Grounds — or on any college campus — makes the campus less safe.

“[There is a] lofty idea of being able to pull out a gun and stop a mass shooter,” Tobin said. “But there are studies that have shown that when people are in mass shooting situations, they can’t properly act, they freeze, they are not trained to use these weapons.”

Tobin said policemen should be tasked with handling situations such as a mass shooting.

“I think it’s best if there was such a situation to allow professional policemen to take care of this instead of faculty members who have just happened to take a test and then get a peer reference for a permit,” Tobin said.

The bill is currently being reviewed House Committee on Education.

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