- The Washington Times - Monday, March 7, 2016

Concealed carry permits won’t be required for gun-owning adults in West Virginia after the state legislature this weekend voted to override Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto of a controversial firearm bill.

Mr. Tomblin, a Democrat, vetoed a bill Thursday that calls for allowing anyone over the age 21 to carry a concealed handgun without a permit in West Virginia.

By Saturday, lawmakers in both the state Senate and House of Delegates had voted to reject the governor’s veto.

House Bill 4145 is now slated to go into effect on May 24, 2016, at which point gun owners won’t be required to apply for a permit if they want to carry a hidden handgun within the state unless they’re under 21. Those who do opt to apply for a permit will be eligible for a $50 tax credit.

Specifically, HB 4145 “establish[es] that criminal penalties for carrying a concealed deadly weapon without state license or other lawful authorization apply only to persons under twenty-one years of age and prohibited persons.”

Individuals excluded from the rule include those with diagnosed substance-abuse problems, multiple alcohol-related driving infractions or serious criminal records. Persons between the ages of 18 and 20 will be allowed to carry a concealed weapon, albeit after obtaining a permit.

“[A]ny United States citizen or legal resident thereof at least twenty-one years of age and not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm may carry a concealed deadly weapon without a license,” the bill reads in part.

HB 4145 cleared both the state House and Senate last month, but Mr. Tomblin vetoed the bill during a rare signing ceremony last Thursday.

“I urge you to look around this room for a moment and see that law enforcement are concerned about this bill,” the governor said, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

Nevertheless, the House voted 64-33 to override his veto the following day, and the Senate followed through with a 23-11 vote on Saturday.

“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,” Mr. Tomblin said in a statement after both chambers overrode his veto. “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.”

“It’s a slap in the governor’s face, but it’s a slap in the State Police’s face, sheriffs, municipal police officers and the vast majority of our constituents,” said Sen. Corey Palumbo, a Democrat representing Kanawha.

As the veto override made clear, however, many politicians holding office across the Mountain State have taken aim at the governor’s effort.

“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,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey said after the veto. “If this bill is enacted, we will not only expand freedom, but we will keep our citizens protected.”

“Law-abiding West Virginians are now free to choose the method of self-defense that best suits their needs,” added Chris W. Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “The NRA and our 5 million members are pleased that the legislature voted in support of West Virginians’ Second Amendment freedoms.”

When the law takes effect in late May, West Virginia will become the eighth state in the country where residents won’t need a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

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