CHARLESTON, W.Va. — There are clear advantages to carrying a concealed weapon. The incident at the Good Family Pharmacy in Kanawha County was a textbook case of the gun lobby’s correct assertion, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Buoyed by a more conservative legislature the National Rifle Association and others are pressing for a relaxation of some of the state’s gun laws this session. One of them would remove some of the current restrictions on the conceal carry law. Currently you must be 21 years old and complete a hand gun safety course before you can get a permit. Legislation now before the full Senate would roll back those provisions.  Under the bill everybody who is a law abiding citizen would be able to carry a concealed weapon.

On first glance the idea sounds appropriate.  The second amendment isn’t a suggestion, it’s a right.  But lawmakers should tread carefully as they approach this bill.  The temptation here is to appease the NRA and strip back any and all gun restrictions.

Senator Mike Romano (D-Harrison) said on MetroNews Talkline Tuesday he favors the bill, but worries common sense may be forgotten. One could argue that happens with a lot of things at the State Capitol.

Romano tried unsuccessfully to amend the bill to keep a training requirement as a provision of the conceal carry program or to at least keep the age limit at 21.

“I don’t think it makes as big a difference as at first blush it might,” Romano said. “If you kept it at age 21, in other words cut out he college kids and the immature kids.  If I was a kid who got to carry a concealed weapon in college I’d have been one of the dangerous ones.  I had a big ego. I’d want to show everybody what I was carrying.  That’s a recipe for disaster.”

The bill would enable an 18 year old high school kid to be armed.  I can remember when I was 18.  While I think I was mature enough to know how to handle a firearm, I admittedly would have been tempted to show it off.   Pulling out a gun and showing it to people is risky behavior.  I was raised shooting and had a healthy respect for guns from an early age, but not all of my friends were brought up in that environment.   Even fewer today have lifelong exposure to firearms or have any idea how to use one correctly and handle it safely.

Romano is right.  The bravado of a young buck is a dangerous thing.

The Senator also tried unsuccessfully to amend the bill to require a safety course.  Again, not a bad idea.

“I think we should require a fundamental handgun safety course so you know how to handle a hand gun,” said Romano. “Most people shoot themselves. That’s what I don’t want in West Virginia.  You’ve got to apply some common sense to these bills.  They sound great. They’re a great idea on paper, but you’ve got to apply common sense to the law.”

There is one incident however which gives me reservations about Romano’s theory, Virginia Tech. A close friend with whom I grew up was a member of the Virginia State Police and was among the first on the scene that  dreadful day in Blacksburg.  He described the positioning of victims in one classroom as “sheep led to slaughter.”  None appeared to have taken any action to stop the shooter or to escape.

I’ve often thought about his story over the years.  The image he painted haunted me.  What if one of those students or a professor  had a pistol?  What if somebody in those doomed classrooms had been armed?  The trail of carnage from a crazed gunman might have been far shorter.   We’ll never know, but the thought has often occurred to me.  Besides, under this law even the 18 year old freshman couldn’t carry a concealed weapon into a college classroom.

Romano said he supports the bill, but clearly has grave reservations.  I have mixed feelings of my own.

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Comments

  • Rocky

    I was only 11 years of age, when I was rewarded, quite unexpectedly, by being given a used .22 caliber, single shot, bolt action rifle, for having mowed my favorite Great Uncle's one acre lawn, all throughout the summer of 1964, while he was out of town visiting his daughter .
    My dad took me squirrel hunting that Fall.
    My next birthday I was given a 12 gauge, single shot, shotgun, for my birthday, so that we could hunt rabbits, pheasants and ducks, etc.
    I also went deer hunting with an archery set, with friends and their fathers, that next year.
    I had grown up with virtually my every toy being a toy gun, toy soldiers, cowboys & Indians gear, cops and robbers gear, etc. So I was already quite familiar with how they worked. I can't imagine shooting myself, at that time, although accidents do happen, to all of us.

    As one of our Founding Fathers said;
    "To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them..." --Richard Henry Lee, 1787

    'The Militia Act of 1903' created the 'Unorganized Militia', to be comprised of all males, of military age and veterans up to age 60 (considered old age at that time), who were required to acquire weapons and ammunition, of the sort commonly used in military service, in case they were called upon, by their State's Governor, or their County Sheriff, for whatever legal reason may apply. This Act is still in effect to this day.

    I am simply appalled by the numbers of people in this country who have been taught to be hoplophobic, by their schools, teachers and even by their government, considering that 'We the People', are the first and last line of defense, should calamity befall us. According to 'American Police Beat', the average response time for an emergency call is 10 minutes. Atlanta has the worst response time with 11 to 12 minutes and Nashville comes in at a lightning speed of 9 minutes.
    Just about enough time to be able to put crime scene tape around your dead body and to file a police report.
    Even some Sheriffs and Police Chiefs are now beginning to tell their citizens to arm themselves, as there's no way that the police can be expected to arrive in time to save most persons lives.

    Having said all of that, I must admit to being a Army veteran, a former Peace Officer and an NRA Pistol Trainer and that I truly believe that many folks might need a modicum of weapons training, to ensure that they don't accidentally shoot themselves or others.
    Veterans are excused, former law enforcement are excused, as well, but those completely unfamiliar with firearms most assuredly need some form of weapons instruction, prior to being allowed to handle/carry a firearm, while in public.

    The Second Amendment reads; 'A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.' 'Well Regulated', in the nomenclature of the times, meant 'well trained'. Since everyone, from 16 - 60 was already a member of the General Militia, the part about belonging to a militia is mute.

  • Cube Archer

    And precisely how on God's green earth would you have any functional clue of the general populace's knowledge or skills with a fire arm? Or perhaps you and the good senator could just pen a law that requires violent criminals to open carry. Because, you know, that way us gun ignorant folk could leave the area before the massacre begins... if we choose.

  • Martinsburg Resident

    Very true! Great point... We've become an indoctrinated society, taught by the media that GUNS are the problem, when in reality, stupidity, ignorance, and political correctness is the problem!

  • Martinsburg Resident

    As a retired police officer, I fully support the Constitutional Carry! When I took my oath, I swore to protect our State & Federal Constitutions... Arguments against this on the basis that people won't use common sense or fail to get training are invalid. Those type people wouldn't follow the gun restriction laws to begin with. Gun restriction laws only harm "law abiding citizens"! A well armed society is a polite society! We do not need the Government deciding if or how many guns we own. Not long ago a government began Registration, which led to Confiscation, and eventually Extermination! 2nd Amendment is very clear to those of us with an ounce of Common Sense! Predatory Felons will never follow stupid gun control laws. I find it comical when I see places of businesses, hospitals, schools, etc... with signs saying, "This is a gun free facility"! and not have any armed security... Why not say, "Hello Mr. Evil, please come on in and slaughter all of the unarmed people inside!" It is absolute political correctness gone MAD! You will never be able to legislate common sense.

  • Wowbagger

    Hmmm...

    At 17 I bought a 22 Target handgun in Pennsylvania and everything was perfectly legal. I already had the Smith and Wesson and another revolver my grandfather owned. He was required to carry one when he transported the US mail in his truck in the 20s and 30s.

    I also had an old WW II era Sauer the local Deputy Sheriff had confiscated from someone. He gave it to me because he considered me responsible enough to own it. It had a broken part that the local gunsmith fixed. He wasn't concerned when I paid him and he returned it to the sixteen or seventeen year old.

    Guess I was too responsible to become a state Senator as I never bragged about these, shot myself, or engaged in any mischief with these handguns.

  • Mark

    The second amendment gives you the right to a well regulated militia. I'm personally for private gun ownership you haven the right to protect yourself , your family, and personal property.
    I learned about gun responsibility as a kid hunting with adults, from the service as an 11bravo.
    The problem I see is that the nra and others have high jacked the issue to push their personal social agendas which has brought about irresponsible gun ownership.
    Conceal carry permits at least offered some type of requirement of training and safety.
    I dropped my nra membership many years ago over the cop killer bullet issue plus the fact when you look at their legislative website and see the types of lawmakers they bankroll.
    Carrying around a loaded ar-15 in public at a local grocery store is not your right when it is used as an intimidation tactic to push Reich wing agendas is not freedom but outright tyranny.

  • WVU1

    In theory, concealed carry is wonderful deterrent to violent crime. What scares me is that some of the most irresponsible, childlish and least "gun aware" people I know have permits and carry. For them, its an ego thing. I can't imagine the carnage if these people pulled that weapon.

  • Pat

    Concealed carry permits give us the "unknown security". You won't know who is carrying (and many are) until the "stuff" hits the fan. This keeps thugs on their toes wondering who is carrying and who could put a stop to their carnage in a moment. Those "No Guns Allowed" signs only gave them the freedom to do what they wanted because they knew that legal gun owners would leave their guns at home or in a locked vehicle. No more - people are carrying concealed weapons whenever and wherever they feel the need and ignoring the signs just like the thugs do.

  • Chuck

    I have observed over the last few years the following: When I was a child, in school, almost everyone had a gun, most of us respected the gun, and few people were afraid of them.

    Now, it has reversed. Most do not have a gun, People do not respect a gun, and almost everyone is afraid of them.

    This applies generally across the population, not to specific areas and such. It's a generalization to illustrate a point, not a statistical fact.

  • Alamoses

    The foolish might display a concealed weapon?
    If displayed, it is not concealed. Is the concealing that causes the problem? Apparently not but it is the displaying which is disapproved. If we were accustomed to open carrying of firearms, there would be no sensitivity like that expressed here and the concern would be about concealment because you couldn't see the weapon. The whole thing is a red herring. Society would be more respectful with constitutional open carry.

  • Brad Ward

    I agree with Senator Romano on one thing only: Most people (now) don't know how to safely handle firearms. Safety course required. With freedom comes responsibility! If you're not willing to be responsible, then you don't get to carry concealed. Open carry is another matter, because people can see the weapon and leave the area, if they choose.

  • bill

    I don't know about limiting the age to 21 years old. I turned 19 in Vietnam carry a fully automatic assault rifle or the M-60 machine-gun. I do agree that they need to be taught gun safety. And someone intelligent enough to go on to college you would think they would be intelligent enough to safely carry a firearm. But there again you can't use a blanket rule for everybody. I started my son and my grandchildren shooting when they were in the first grade. As a family we routinely go to the range and shoot on a regular basis very enjoyable we meet some of the nicest people. I have been able to teach several young people eight, nine, 10 years old their parents have brought them to the range trying to teach them and not knowing exactly how to do it. I understand the Senators concern and there is no easy answer to the these concerns.

  • John Wirts

    I spent 4 years in the California Cadet Corps in high school, and 43 years in the military. With out any doubt the most dangerous person is the person who knows NOTHING ABOUT GUNS AND IS IN FACT TERRIFIED OF THEM! As a child from age 6-9 I was taught guns were not toys, that all guns were loaded until cleared by a responsible person(adult). At age 9-13 I was taught to shoot a child sized 22 cal rifle on the range until I could reasonably hit a target. I had to clear disassemble and clean the rifle after use. At age 13 I was allowed to hunt with my father and grandfather. I never had ant trouble with checking, loading, firing, unloading, clearing,disassembling, cleaning, and reassembling any firearm for storage. The anti-gun idiots need to learn about guns, safety, firing, clearing clearing and safely storing them.Ignorance is curable, stupidity is not.

  • Daniel Hall

    I was open carrying every time I went hunting, by that I mean I had a side arm on me beside the shot gun or rifle which ever one that I was using to hunt with, (that depended on what I was hunting) We were also taught to not shoot anything that we were not going to use for food. But that doesn't have anything to do with CCW's Just like Bruce was taught we were taught to not point your gun at anything you were not going to shoot, if we did then we had our guns taken away and they were not given back to use until we could prove that we had learned our lesson which was we had to hunt without a gun and if we messed up then time was added to the suspension of our guns. As far as a back ground check to see if you are qualified to own a gun I can see that and also you should have to be trained to use the gun. Just like we were when I was a kid.. ( I am 77 years old and I still remember the lessons that I was taught and yes I carry a loaded weapon 24 7)

  • David

    A gun safety course is a good idea and people should be encouraged to VOLUNTARIALLY take one. But, when he comes out and makes a statement like 'most people shoot themselves' he has just lost any credibility he might have had. Such fear mongering is just to try and get those who do not know the facts to go along with his anti-gun agenda.

  • P0rk Ch0pian

    No, most people with CCW permits do NOT shoot themselves [or anyone else, the vast majority of the time]. So, that is not true.

    However, Most [if not all] people who ~ like the mentioned Anti-Conceal Carry Senator ` say that “Most people with CCWs shoot themselves” are seriously challenged, mentally. That is true.

  • Bruce Andrews

    There is a lot of talk concerning gun safety education, and just as many differing opinions. I grew just outside the city limits of Golden, Colorado. As a son of a rancher i was taught as soon as i can remember that all guns were loaded, there were loaded guns by the doors, i was also taught that you only point a gun at something you intend to shoot. (To clarify this you only point a gun at someone you intend to KILL). Both my older brother and I were taught how to shoot as soon as we could hold a rifle and were expert shoots and had our own 22's at age 13. At 16 an uncle gave my brother and I each a 45 long Colt single action revolver with holster. He spent many hours teaching my brother and I how to use them. Our father and his brother also taught us when to use them. Likewise I have done the same with all my children, and grandchildren, I have 3 boys 3 girls and 5 grand children. I am now teaching my 9 year old grandson and 14 year old granddaughter how to shoot and gun safety. I would hope that everyone gets the point. For all those that grew up in a household of liberal/communists there are very good classes at most good shooting ranges and most are affordable. WE DO NOT NEED THE GOVERNMENT INVOLVED PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jim

    The status quo is being 21, taking a gun safety course, and being a law abiding citizen. People are charged a fee for their sheriff's verifying these things and issued a permit. Senator Romano claims that he favors this bill, but it doesn't sound as if he agrees with anything in it.

    Me? I go with the second amendment. No government oversight in any way. Anyone who can be held responsible for his actions has all the rights of a citizen. If someone is too dangerous to be trusted with a gun, keep him in jail.

  • Bob Harris

    I grew up in a family who owned guns. I was taught how to properly handle firearms as a kid. Later in life, I became a state Hunter Safety Instructor who taught safe gun handling procedures to others. Howrver, I do not believe you should have to have a government permit to carry a firearm concealed.

  • Johnw1120

    Things have changed a lot since I was in school (50 years ago), the majority of us were raised around guns,were taught safety and also had easy access to them, loaded or unloaded. The PC liberal bunch is so concerned that all of our kids must have sex education and now it seems some even want the LGBT agenda mixed in but mention common sense firearms education and they have a fit, even though all of their excuses are based on emotion and not facts. All schools, starting with preschool should have some kind of common sense gun safety class (my sister, a 75 year old preschool teacher uses the NRA "Eddie Eagle program) when it comes to guns ignorance is much more dangerous than knowledge. A child taught in school and reenforced at home to tell an adult if they encounter a gun is a good thing, much better than curiosity. From there on up there should be some kind of safety or gun education taught every year, after all most states require a hunter safety class to buy a hunting license, I received mine in JR high school. In today's environment where many of the younger generation is not exposed to guns as much, a safety class would not be such a bad idea. I have concealed carry permits and know that the majority of states require a background check to get them, what I oppose is the records maintained by the states who issue them, that provides an opportunity for that information to be used against permit holders, just like registration. Remember the stupid news paper back East that printed a map showing all permit holder addresses? That is not only recklessly stupid it is also dangerous, the whole benefit to all that CCW provides is the fact that the bad guys don't know which good guys have the guns, therefore all benefit including non gun owners.

  • Mike DeMaria

    Tocqueville said something like: "A man's affection for a big all controlling government is in direct relation to his contempt for his fellow man."
    This senator has noting but contempt for the people of WV. He believes we are born with no sense at all and the government must educate and train us so we will not hurt ourselves.
    Screw you buddy.

  • Ronald Chappell

    Statistics please: #of shot feet vs cc permits

  • Phil Witte

    Here in Arizona you can carry open or concealed without a permit. Contrary to popular beliefs we don't shoot ourselves. A permit is required if you are going into places that serve alcohol but you can't drink if you are carrying a gun. For a permit I think a course should be required. More to learn about the law than for safety.

  • Christopher Meissen

    Gun education is wonderful. Mandatory education prior to being "allowed" to exercise a fundamental right, however, is not. As for background checks, look at the mess in Washington state with its recent passage of "universal background checks." According to the US Justice dept. the only practical way to enforce such laws is with universal registration and this is the true goal of those proposing such laws. What other fundamental right requires a permit and background check?

  • William Wangall

    I agree that a person needs some training with a firearm. I got my training in the Marines.
    I also have a permit to carry in WI. I'd like the law be the same in all states,just like a drivers license.

  • Christopher Meissen

    I would recommend that Mr. Lawrence (and Sen. Romano) take the time to read The Second Amendment Primer by Les Adams (currently $11.25 from Amazon.com.) Mr. Adams does an excellent job of presenting the tradition, history, and intent of our unique right to keep and bear arms in language that any middle school student should be able to comprehend. I guarantee that it will change your outlook on not only the 2nd Amendment but on the rest of the Constitution as well.

  • Christopher Meissen

    As a self-professed advocate of "common sense" gun laws and gun safety, perhaps Sen. Romano could introduce and support a firearms training and safety program in middle schools similar to the drivers education programs found in many schools. Teach all young people the fundamental rules of safe, responsible gun handling so that they grow up to be safe, responsible adults whether they end up owning a firearm or not.

  • Tired of The Misleading

    Are you serious? Most people shoot themselves?......There are in some reports that almost 250 million Americans already own a firearm and with that comment there should be hospitals filled with self inflicted wounds. I know guns are just for hunting right? Let me ask you something Mr. Lawrence, where is it in the constitution where the founders wanted the law abiding citizens asking permission to own or carry a firearm in any shape or form from the very government they were trying to protect us from to begin with? Do you have the integrity to answer that?

  • mike black

    I agree . In fact why aren't we having this discussion instead of "how can we infringe " how can we empower . why can perverse versions of sex Ed. Be taught in school but not survival skills like proper use of firearms. When I was in school we had ROTC and even had a rifle range on sight .

  • mark

    How about allowing service members under the age of 21 the right to carry? Kind of a benefit for their service. Besides, they have gone through the most rigorous gun training in the US. What more do you expect from them?

  • Wayne Duffield

    The remark that most people shoot themselves is ridiculous and contrary to the facts. Many people are able to handle firearms without some training course because they learned from their fathers or out on a farm at an early age. Just because the Senator was immature at 18 doesn't mean that everyone else is. I know that I wasn't.

  • Carl Stevenson

    You say you "totally support the 2nd amendment," but then you list the infringements on that which "shall not be infringed" that you find acceptable.

  • charles river

    Jimbo,
    You got it!!!!!!
    Follow the MONEY~

  • George R. Horn

    I at first thought the Senator was anti gun, but his proposal makes a lot of sense. I for one have no problem with background checks, no problem with gun education courses, and to be truthful, even the 21 year old requirement has merit. I might even go so far as to allow non violent ex-cons to also have the right to carry. We could be on the verge of a very nasty state of affairs if the threats to this country are carried out. I totally support the 2nd amendment and would like to see NYC and NY follow the constitution of the land.

  • charles river

    Here ya go!!!
    Another democrat figuring a way to generate MONEY and slow the process of personal protection- I've carried a concealed weapon since being shot during Carters fabricated gas embargo and have been fortunate to not shoot myself-
    Stastically, more cops shoot themselves than citizens, but of course the IQ level has to be factored~

  • ontheright

    It's not about safety, it's about chipping away at gun rights little by little until the lieberal / progressive / socialists have nothing to stop them from implementing their utopian ideas and the "fundamental transformation" of America...oh wait, never mind.

  • Jmac67

    That first part was supposed to say young men not you men.

  • Jmac67

    I also have mixed feelings about this. Kids especially you men fueled on testorone and gunpowder can make for a dangerous mixture. But we must also remember that many service member are under 21 years of age and we don't get these problems. Maybe they should compromise snd make it mandatory for anyone under 21 to take the safety course and recommend the course for anyone looking to obtain a pistol.

  • Ted Crawford

    OR, as Himmler explained it:
    "Germans who wish to use Firearms should join the SS or SA. Ordinary citizens don't need guns, as their having Guns doesn't serve the State!"
    18 year old's can use Guns IF they join the Military!

  • ontheright

    Couldn't agree more. That's why any sensible gun owner should welcome the opportunity to learn gun safety.

    After all, you don't know what you don't know, until you know.

  • ontheright

    And go to war...

  • NancyJ

    I have known a lot of gun owners over the last 50 years, Senator Romano and not a one of them has shot themselves. Maybe your friends are not as bright because they are liberals.

  • Ted Crawford

    We simply need to be aware that he is, after all, a Progressive, as such he is familiar with the habits of his Progressive friends, and incorrectly assumes that everybody is equally inept at things!

  • bkoziol

    I DON'T OWN A GUN, DON'T WANT TO OWN A GUN BUT I DON'T NEED A BUREAUOCRAT TELLING ME I CAN'T OWN A GUN.
    ROMANO MUST BE THE DUMBEST MF ON THE PLANET!

  • Cliff John

    So 18 year olds are too immature to handle guns, but mature enough to vote?

  • Carlyle Stakes

    Having grown up with guns and been in the Army, I feel gun training, especially pistols, is an absolute necessity. Folks don't have any idea how to handle a side arm without training. The more the better.

  • JungleCogs

    I heard that most Democrat Senators named 'Mike Romano' beat their wives too!

  • jmoses

    I agree, if you don't have enough sense NOT to shoot yourself, then you should not be carrying a gun, "OR ANYTHING ELSE". You could possibly drop something else, and get brain damage. If you don't have enough sense to not shoot yourself, then you don't need to get out of bed. Take a lifetime snooze !!!
    "NUFFSAID"

  • Russ

    An 18 year old 'kid' in Vermont can carry a concealed handgun without a permit or restriction of any kind. How many have shot themselves? "Most" of them?

  • JGault

    If it's not a 21 and older issue, teach firearm safety in the schools.

    The idea is NOT to have firearm owners name on a list of any kind.

  • Jimbo

    The pharmacist who killed the robber was not required to have a concealed carry permit in his store. He is the owner so it might as well be his home. He might have a permit, but his training didn't come from some 4 hour safety class. It came from years handling a firearm. I can live with a 21 year old restriction. If we don't let them drink, it's not reasonable to let them carry a handgun they can't even legally purchase. But let's be honest and realize the sheriff's objection is chiefly their loss of permit fund money.