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Tomblin strikes down bill that would change conceal carry law

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has vetoed the conceal carry gun bill for the second year in a row.

“I just don’t think it’s in the best interest of the state of West Virginia to sign this bill,” Tomblin said following a press conference at the state Capitol.

The governor vetoed the bill (HB 4145) Thursday which would do away with the state’s current permit and training program to carry a concealed weapon in West Virginia for anyone ages 21 and older. Permits would be required for those between 18-21.

Tomblin has repeatedly pointed out the concern law enforcement have with the change.

“When you’re a police officer and you walk into a dangerous situation, you almost have to expect that everyone’s carrying a gun,” Tomblin said.

Kent Carper, president of the Kanawha County Commission, was one of several officials who expressed concern about the bill that, he said, fails to protect police officers.

“Do we seriously want to send our law enforcement officials out and take away any chance they have to come home safely?” he said. “These men and women protect us.”

Over the last few years, Carper said more than 173 county residents were denied gun permits.

“(It was) for people that had mental problems, people that were convicted felons, drug dealers. Do we really want to take away a sensible protection for our law enforcement?” he said.

Steve Tanner, president of the West Virginia’s Sheriff Association, said the current program should remain in place.

“We have a system in this state that works very, very well,” he said. “It is a good system and no person has been denied who has the right to have these weapons.”

With nine days left in the 60-day legislative session, the legislature would have time to override the veto.

Joe Crawford, vice president of the West Virginia Fraternal Order of Police, said the veto should make lawmakers realize the negative effects the bill will have on the state.

“Common sense, at some point in time, ought to kick in and if they don’t know and they don’t see the response that it has here and the support that we have across this state, they’ll never get it,” Crawford said.

Both the state House of Delegates and Senate agreed to put a $50 state income tax credit in the bill for application fees and training, only if someone chooses to get training, which is not required.

The bill passed the House with a 61 to 31 vote. The Senate approved it 24 to 9.

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