The writing was on the wall this time around. Despite Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto, for the second straight year in a row, there was enough support in both chambers of the West Virginia Legislature to ensure that the Mountain State would become the eighth state to allow law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed firearm without a permit.
And that’s exactly what happened. Tomblin vetoed HB 4145 last Thursday. The very next day the state House chose to override the governor’s decision by a vote of 64-33, only to be followed by the state Senate on Saturday, which also voted 23-11 in favor of the override.
Starting in May, which is approximately 90 days from the passage of the bill, Constitutional carry will become a reality in West Virginia — a thought that is displeasing to the Democratic governor.
“West Virginia’s law enforcement officers have dedicated their lives to keeping us safe and helping us in times of need, and it’s disheartening that the members of the Legislature have chosen not to stand with these brave men and women – putting their safety and the safety of West Virginians at risk,” said Tomblin in a statement.
“It’s unfortunate that the concerns of officers from every law enforcement branch in the state, including the West Virginia State Police and university campus police officers, have been ignored by today’s action,” he added.
Tomblin’s big beef with the bill was that it jeopardized public safety, a specious claim considering that open carry without a license is already lawful in West Virginia.
In fact, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey acknowledged as much in a statement.
“As the chief legal officer of the state and the person in charge of criminal matters for the state at the WV Supreme Court and in federal courts, I know that this legislation will not impact public safety,” he said after the veto. “If this bill is enacted, we will not only expand freedom, but we will keep our citizens protected.”
Under the language of the HB 4145, all law-abiding citizens over the age of 21 will be allowed to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense without a permit. Additionally, citizens between the ages of 18-21 will be allowed to apply for a concealed carry permit, provided they undergo training for which they would receive a tax credit.
The NRA hailed it as a victory for the Second Amendment.
“Self-defense is a fundamental right that must be respected,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA-ILA. “Law-abiding West Virginians are now free to choose the method of self-defense that best suits their needs. The NRA and our five million members are pleased that the legislature voted in support of West Virginians’ Second Amendment freedoms.”
West Virginia joins Vermont, Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Maine, Wyoming, and Mississippi as permit-less carry states.