Constitutional carry, or permitless carry, has passed the West Virginia Senate with an astonishing 32 to 2 vote. That means that 14 of the 16 Democrats in the Senate voted for the bill. The two that voted against it were Sen. Ronald Miller (D) and Senator Corey Palumbo (D). Perhaps the vote is not that astonishing.
After all, this is merely the state of affairs that the country was in for most of its existence, nearly everywhere, before the Civil War, or War Between the States if you prefer. Even after the war, most states did not criminalize concealed carry until the progressive wave swept the country after 1900. Recent experience in Arkansas, Wyoming, Arizona, and Alaska have shown that repealing the bans on concealed carry result in no change in crime rates. There may even be a slight decrease. Vermont has had constitutional carry for its entire history, and has one of the lowest crime rates in the nation, ranking with the most law abiding European nations, such as Switzerland.
The House looks likely to pass the bill as well. In the House, Republicans outnumber Democrats 64 to 36.
Here is the wording of the bill from From legiscan.com:
(a) Any person who carries a concealed deadly weapon
without a state license or other lawful authorization established under the provisions of this code,who is prohibited from possessing firearms under section seven of this article shall beis guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $1,000 and may be imprisoned in the countyjail for not more than twelve months for the first offense; but upon conviction of a second or subsequent offense, he or she shall beis guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be imprisoned in the penitentiarya state correctional facility not less than one nor more than five years and fined not less than $1,000 nor more than $5,000.
It removes the prohibition of carrying concealed handguns on the person while hunting.
(a) Notwithstanding any provision of this code to the contrary, a person
licensed to carry a concealed weapon pursuant to the provisions of section four, article seven, chapter sixty-one of this codewho is not prohibited at the time from possessing a firearm pursuant to the provisions of section seven, article seven, chapter sixty-one of this code or by any applicable federal law may carry a handgun in a concealed mannerfor self defense purposes while afield hunting, hiking, camping or in or on a motor vehicle.
The bill leaves in place the existing permit system so that those who wish to have a permit for reciprocity purposes will be able to do so.
It is not known if Governor Tomblin will sign the bill, but it appears to have veto proof majorities in the making.
West Virginia may well become the first state to pass constitutional carry this year.
©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch