CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA — West Virginian legislators are well on their way to recovering an initial botched attempt to implement constitutional carry in their state. According to the Herald-Dispatch, legislators in the House nearly got a bill past Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin before he vetoed it. Failing to override the veto in the House, the bill was squashed. Now, it is coming back from the grave — this time with revisions which address the serious concerns of law enforcement.
The new measure, which is set to clear the Senate, implements the following restrictions onto the constitutional carry provision:
- Gun-related crimes may come with heavier penalties.
- All 18-21-year-olds would be required to undergo the same training requirements current concealed carriers are required to undergo before getting permitted.
- New law would be limited to West Virginia residents.
In many ways, the West Virginian legislation appears similar to Kansas and other newly-made constitutional carry states like Maine. There are restrictions, requirements, and a system of determining who is and isn’t allowed to carry concealed. The big difference will be the permitting process necessary for West Virginia residents to travel out-of-state — but that’s something that will likely be handled with the same requirements West Virginia residents now need to complete in order to obtain their concealed carry permits.
Leading up the charge, this time, is Senator Bill Cole — the president of the West Virginia Senate. He feels that constitutional carry is a right owed to every West Virginia resident who can legally own and carry a gun.
“The crooks, the drug dealers, they already have a gun under their coat, and they don’t have a concealed carry permit,” Sen. Cole said.
Despite Gov. Tomblins’ implied decision to veto this measure if it makes it onto his desk, both Republicans and pro-gun Democrats seem poised to override that veto.
West Virginia does not require a permit to carry openly but it does have restrictions on how and where one may do so. While Tomblin has not supported the constitutional carry effort, he has enforced measures that remove the ability for municipalities to impose additional restrictions on locations where concealed carriers may not carry.
Last time a similar measure went to Gov. Tomblin’s desk, both law enforcement associations and anti-gun organizations were against it. Law enforcement’s main concern was with the training requirements — there were none. That has been addressed with this current round of legislation. This and other initiatives have allowed the sheriff’s association that was staunchly against the initial bill to reconsider.
“We’re not beyond compromise because of the fact that we aren’t anti-gun,” said Rodney Miller, Sheriffs’ Association executive director.
This means, in its current form, the only organizations remaining to oppose it will be the anti-gunner movements which oppose any measure designed to improve the rights of law-abiding citizens. That evens the odds, a bit.
Here’s hoping that West Virginia can join the growing ranks of constitutional carry!