From the Beckley Register-Herald:
Note: Isn’t it just like big-government politicians, such as we have here in West Virginia, to give people the right to carry concealed weapons, and then apply a bunch of arbitrary rules that nobody will know or be able to follow? That’s just what West Virginia needs, more rules. Maybe we could get those signs that the State of Virginia has when you drive into it listing everything that the all-knowing politicians have declared as illegal. – John H. Bryan, West Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney.
Legislation on guns causing stir
CHARLESTON — Concealed weapons are making quite a bang in this legislative session.
One such proposal would conceal more than sidearms — it would keep a prying public from knowing just who has secured such permits. But that bill caused such a stir the House of Delegates pulled it off the calendar.
Over in the Senate, two other proposals embracing guns have surfaced.
Sen. Shirley Love, D-Fayette, is attempting to get the National Park Service to either recognize visitors who have concealed weapons permits — including non-residents — or post signs warning them their firearms aren’t allowed on federal land.
In his own measure, Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, wants to clear up language the attorney general’s office feels is a bit murky on the reciprocal agreements West Virginia holds with other states.
“We’re making lots of progress,” Barnes says. “But the attorneys from the attorney general’s office working on this say we need to clean up in our reciprocity to be able to open it up for other states’ licensees to be able to carry here, or our licensees to be able to carry in other states.”
Love says about 16 states honor West Virginia’s right to keep a hidden weapon on one’s person.
“We’re spending mega dollars to advertise for people to come into Fayette County and see ‘Wild, Wonderful West Virginia,’ and the New River Gorge, ride the whitewater or rock climb,” he says.
“But if you take that pistol off Fayette Station and go down into the gorge, and the NPS would stop you for speeding, they can say to you, ‘Do you have a weapon in your automobile? Do you have a weapon on you?’”
Since firearms are disallowed on federal property, the senator says, any visitor toting one inside the gorge could wind up behind bars, even though West Virginia recognizes such permits in the other states.
In his resolution, now before the Senate Natural Resources Committee, the senator is asking the NPS to at least post warning signs at park entrances if it cannot honor concealed weapons permits.
“That way you could separate the weapon and ammunition, put your weapon in the trunk of the car and lock it, and put the ammo in the glove compartment,” Love says.
“But there are no signs now. This could be entrapment.
“You could wind up probation for a year. It could cause you to lose your pistol permit and bring a fine.”
Love says a bill is pending in Congress to alter NPS regulations so that concealed weapons permits would be honored in the park system.
“But in the meantime, in places like the New River Gorge, let’s at least put signage up and amply warn people coming in from other states.”
The House bill was intended to protect victims of domestic violence by keeping secret their addresses after they file for concealed weapons permits. But concerns raised by the West Virginia Press Association over the public’s right to read public documents prompted the Democratic leadership to pull the bill.
Majority Leader Joe DeLong, D-Hancock, says the proposal can yet find its way back on the special calendar with two weeks left in the session if it can be tweaked to appease the Fourth Estate.
A year ago, the Legislature altered the state’s reciprocity bill, and the attorney general’s office began taking steps to conform, Barnes said.
“What we had to do in our original language is pretty much that their system had to be identical to our system. But there are some other states that don’t necessarily have an identical system but they may have a stronger system that operates differently. So we’re just trying to clean it up to make it more reciprocal with more states.”