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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  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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?

    • 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

    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~

  • 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.

    • 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?

  • 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


  • Cliff John

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

    • 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

      And go to war...

  • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  • 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 !!!

  • 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.

    • 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 .

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • charles river

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