West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a Constitutional carry bill on Friday, citing concerns over public safety.
“Throughout my career, I have strongly supported the Second Amendment, as demonstrated by my repeated endorsements and high grades from the National Rifle Association,” said Gov. Tomblin in a statement.
“However, I must also be responsive to the apprehension of law enforcement officers from across the state, who have concerns about the bill as it relates to the safety of their fellow officers,’ Tomblin continued.
The bill, known as Senate Bill 347 or the Firearms Act of 2015, would have scrapped the state’s concealed carry issuance process which includes mandatory training and $100 licensing fee allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed without a permit. For Tomblin, removing these requirements was problematic.
“In light of these concerns and in the interest of public safety for all West Virginians, I have vetoed Senate Bill 347,” said Tomblin.
SB 347 sailed through both chambers of the state Legislature, clearing the House by a vote of 71-29 and the Senate by 30-4, despite vocal criticism from high-profile politicians like U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and law enforcement officers.
Responding to the governor’s veto, supporters of the bill said that they would simply reintroduce the bill next year.
“We’ll do it again next year and we’ll make sure we do it early enough that he can veto it next year and the same thing that happened with the pain capable bill will happen with this bill,” Del. Mike Folk (R-Berkeley, 63) told Metro News. Folk was referencing a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. Tomblin vetoed the aboartion bill but the Legislature had enough time to override it last year.
Folk also said the the concerns over public safety were overblown.
“[Police] They assume [already] that every person is armed, so the safety issue is not a good argument,” Folk said.
The NRA-ILA, which backed the measure, pointed out that one can currently openly carry a firearm in West Virginia without a permit or without the safety training required to get a concealed carry permit.