March 4, 2016
CHARLESTON, WV – For the second consecutive year, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a bill that would make it legal for West Virginians to carry concealed weapons without a permit, as long as they meet certain requirements.
Tomblin issued his veto of HB 4145 Thursday afternoon in his office while surrounded by members of law enforcement. Tomblin said concern for those officers’ safety was the reason he vetoed the bill.
The governor vetoed a similar bill after the end of the regular legislative session in 2015, and he said throughout the 2016 legislative session that he would veto HB 4145 if it made it to his desk.
The difference between last year and the 2016 legislative session is, the GOP-led House of Delegates has time to bring the bill back for consideration and override the veto.
Republicans have a 64-36 majority in the House, and delegates approved the bill 68-31 on Feb. 8. The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 24-9 on Feb. 22.
The Associated Press reported the National Rifle Association quickly called for lawmakers to start the veto override process. Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael and House Majority Leader Daryl Cowles, both Republicans, have previously said they anticipate an override.
Everytown for Gun Safety, a group funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has mounted a campaign against the bill, including billboards, radio, digital and print ads and polling that widely favored the group’s position.
The bill would allow for residents to carry the weapons for “self-defense purposes” without a permit if they are 21 years or older.
It currently is legal for West Virginia residents to carry a handgun in plain view, but they cannot have weapons that are out of sight from the people around them without having a permit.
The policy of being able to carry a concealed weapon often is referred to as “constitutional carry” by supporters.
Six states have restored constitutional carry to various degrees. They are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine and Wyoming. Vermont has had constitutional carry for its entire history.
If the bill is passed into law, West Virginians between 18 and 21 years old would be required to have a concealed carry permit to carry a weapon that isn’t in plain view to the people around them.
Those young adults would be eligible for a $50 tax credit for the cost of their training, but those who were still claimed as a dependent on their parents’ taxes would not be eligible for the credit.
The bill would require gun handling instructors to have participants fire at least one live round of ammunition during the course, but the requirements otherwise remain the same.
The bill would provide roadblocks for people who have substance abuse issues, mental health issues or convictions of domestic violence or other violent crimes from obtaining permits.