WV: Constitutional Carry Passes the House with Bi-Partisan Support
The West Virginia Constitutional Carry bill, SB 347 has now passed the House. The vote was 71 to 29. This is a very comfortable, veto proof margin. The bill was amended in the House to raise the age for concealed, permit-less carry from 18 to 21, on the 11th of March. On the third read today, the 12th of March, it passed with 71 to 29. The vote was both bi-partisan and sufficient to override a veto. 51 Republicans and 20 Democrats voted for the bill. 13 Republicans and 16 Democrats voted against it.
One of the Republicans who voted against it was Daryl Cowles, the House majority leader, from Berkeley Springs, District 58. Note that he is not the Speaker of the House, but the majority leader.
It passed the Senate 32 to 2 with a bipartisan vote that included 14 Democrats, on the 27th of February.
Because the bill was amended in the house, it will need to go back to the Senate for a confirmation vote before being sent to Democrat Governor Tomblin.
Unlike the constitutional carry bills in Idaho and Mississippi, second amendment supporters spoke in a united voice for this bill. It is supported by the West Virginia Citizens Defense League, The West Virginia Sheriffs Association and the NRA. From the NRAILA before the house vote today:
On Saturday, Senate Bill 347, NRA-backed permitless carry legislation, passed out of the House Judiciary Committee with the addition of a committee substitute. SB 347 now awaits a vote on the House floor. The adopted committee substitute changes the age for those who can legally carry from 18 to 21, adds enhanced penalties for felony crimes with a firearm and allows for the recouping of legal fees from unlawful permit denials. This substitute was a combined effort between the NRA, the West Virginia Citizen’s Defense League and the West Virginia Sheriff’s Association to act in good faith to make a better bill for all those involved.
Here is the introductory paragraph of the bill. I have not seen the final text after the house amendment.
A BILL to repeal §61-7-3 and §61-7-6 of the Code of West
Virginia, 1931, as amended; to amend and reenact
§20-2-5 and §20-2-6a of said code; and to amend and
reenact §61-7-4 of said code, all relating to creating
the West Virginia Firearms Act of 2015; removing
requirement one must have a license to carry a
concealed handgun; repealing exceptions section of
said code to prohibitions against carrying concealed
handguns without a license and removing exemptions
from licensing fees; authorizing carrying a handgun
for purposes of self defense while in the woods of this
state whether concealed or not; providing that if
findings of fact and conclusions of law of the court
fail to uphold denial of a license, the applicant is
entitled to reasonable costs and attorney’s fees,
payable by the sheriff’s office which issued denial;
defining who is prohibited from possessing firearms
and retaining criminal penalties for violations; and
establishing procedure for sheriff in determining
eligibility for license when license holder changes
Her is a link to the status in the WV Legislature. A source on opencarry.org says that the Democrat Governor, Earl Ray Tomblin will allow the bill to pass into law without veto in 10 days. From twoskinsonemanns at opencarry.org:
No one expects him to. He’s expected to ignore it and let the 10 days run out until it becomes law.
I think it would be political suicide to veto it.
Another poster, press1280, expects the Senate to confirm the House amendment without any problem:
Should be 2 weeks. Session ends Saturday, so it has to be on his desk by then. Right now it goes back to the Senate to approve the changes (21 and over), which should be a slam dunk.
Constitutional carry has not been enacted in West Virginia yet. It still has a couple of bumps in the road. But it looks very likely that this gun reform legislation will pass into law. If it does, West Virginia will become the sixth state in the Nation to return to constitutional carry. Kansas looks like the next most likely candidate. Several other states have bills in play.
©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch
Update: Considerable resources are being expended to pressure Governor Tomblin to veto SB 347. I have been informed that MoMs Demanding Action and Everytown are organizing phone banks to pressure the Governor, that even Joe Manchin is said to be pressuring him. While the bill passed with veto-proof majorities, the Governor can veto it. The Legislature is no longer in session, so if the bill is vetoed, there will be no a way to override the veto. As a Democrat, more pressure would need to be applied from the supporters of constitutional carry to prevent him from vetoing the bill.