Law enforcement group concerned with concealed carry legislation

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill aimed at removing the requirement for having a permit to carry a concealed weapon in West Virginia is advancing in the legislature.  Pro-second amendment groups, including the powerful National Rifle Association, have backed the legislation.

The West Virginia Sheriff’s Association is opposed to the legislation, but Executive Director Rodney Miller said realistically he believed it would win approval.   Miller and his organizations have raised questions about the measure since it first appeared at the Capitol last year.  He said since then changes have been made which make it at least more acceptable to law enforcement.

“We feel it would be more productive if we were able to limit the permitless carry to West Virginia residents,” said Miller on Metronews Talkline. “Historically, a lot of the problems for law enforcement officers across the state are drug traffickers that come into the state.”

Supporters balk at the cost of a permit and the training now required to carry a firearm concealed.  Groups supporting the bill call the permits a “tax on a Constitutional right.”

“If they want to take out the fees, so be it.  It’s more about the training,” said Miller. “We believe the training is paramount.  Someone really needs to know what happens on the business end of that gun.  It’s not a piece of jewelry and it’s not an adornment. We agree with the NRA and their training presets.”

However, doing away with the permit means doing away with the training requirement as well.   The bill, as written, would allow anyone over the age of 21 to carry a concealed firearm or deadly weapon without a permit.  There would still be a requirement of a permit for those between the ages of 18 and 21.

Miller stressed their opposition to the proposed bill is not about trampling anybody’s second amendment rights.

“The last thing we want to do is to try take anyone’s guns away from them,” he explained. “You’re probably not going to find any more aggressive individuals who love guns more than law enforcement officers.”

The Constitutional Carry Bill was introduced this week in the House of Delegates and has advanced to the floor from the House Judiciary Committee.  It could win full House approval next week.

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