On June 5, those who can legally possess a firearm in West Virginia will be able to carry a firearm without a license issued by the state. The move comes after the West Virginia legislature overrode Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s recent veto of the measure, the second year in a row that the governor rejected the bill (last year the veto came after the legislature had adjourned for the session). The change in law was brought about with strong bipartisan support from lawmakers in both chambers of the state capitol, although that support didn’t include Democratic state Sen. Mike Woelfel, who said regarding drug runners, “Up in Detroit, Mich., I can possibly hear the cheers going up.”
Note that the law no longer restricts legal gun owners from lawfully carrying in the state without a permit. Drug running, by its very definition, is against the law, and any drug runners caught in the state with a firearm are eligible to face federal firearm and drug charges. I doubt the drug runners in Detroit, or the cartel associates pumping heroin into the hollows of West Virginia, care one bit about the change to the state’s carry laws. Solid citizens, on the other hand—those hit hard by the administration’s War on Coal and the slow erosion of middle-class jobs from a state that’s never had many to begin with—can now protect themselves and their loved ones without forking over a fee to exercise a fundamental right.
The state’s concealed-carry license isn’t going away. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if, like in other states that have adopted “permitless” carry laws, the number of licensed concealed-carry holders continues to rise.
One addition to the West Virginia law is the opportunity for legal gun owners between the ages of 18-21 to get their concealed handgun license. Previously, these young adults had been able to keep firearms, but not bear them. I recently spoke with West Virginia Delegate Saira Blair about how this would impact her personally, as she’s currently old enough to serve in the state House, but not to legally carry her pistol for self-defense. As Blair told me, she herself has received death threats, but that doesn’t matter. The law is the law. Except now, thanks to the efforts of lawmakers, gun owners and NRA members across the state, the law has been made better.