CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The House of Delegates passed a bill Monday that largely does away with the requirements of the state’s conceal carry gun law despite Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s promised veto.
The bill (HB 4145), approved 68-31, eliminates the permitting process currently operated through county sheriff’s departments. The permit process, which includes training and a background check, will still be a requirement for those 18-21, according to the bill.
Delegates debated the bill Monday and turned down several proposed amendments aimed at softening the measure.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin tweeted his feelings on the bill Monday afternoon before the vote.
“I will veto any concealed carry bill that does not take into consideration the concerns of law enforcement for the safety of our officers,” the tweet said.
Opponents of the bill argued the change will hurt police officers who use the current law to stop criminals from committing other crimes.
“One reasonable limitation (on gun rights) is to give the police the ability to be able to stop someone that they know has a concealed weapon before they commit an offense with it. You’re legalizing that,” Del. Larry Rowe (D-Kanawha) told House members.
Rowe also said a consequence of the measure would result in the legalization of other weapons.
“The permit process only relates to revolvers and pistols. So what we’ve done is we’re changing the nature of what can be carried and we’re also changing it away from a permit process,” Rowe said.
But other delegates, like Del. Josh Nelson (R-Boone) argued their should be no restrictions to carry a concealed firearm.
“The Second Amendment has nothing in it about a permit. It has nothing in it about a waiting period or having to pay (a fee) to exercise it,” Nelson said. “What we’re about to do today is fixing something that was wrong in the first place.”
Supporters also said taking away the permit requirement would help women who may be the target of domestic violence. The bill has families in mind, Del. Patrick Lane (R-Kanawha) said.
“I happen to believe that we should balance it on the side of protecting our families,” Lane said. “Making our families, giving our families, restoring our families the ability to protect themselves.”
The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration.