Lawmakers in West Virginia's House of Delegates approved a bill on Feb. 8 that allows gun owners to carry concealed weapons without a permit. Only those aged 18 to 21 would need a concealed carry permit under the law, which was passed 68-31 votes.
While it was popular in the House of Delegates, West Virginia's new gun law is an ill-advised one that has the potential to create new problems.
The first concern about the law comes from law enforcement officers, who expressed their disapproval of the measure when it was first approved by both chambers of West Virginia's legislature in 2015, NPR reports.
Democratic Gov. Early Ray Tomblin -- who is not eligible for reelection in November because of term limits -- said on Twitter that he would "veto any concealed carry bill that does not take into consideration the concerns of law enforcement for the safety of our officers." So as long as Tomblin remains in office, the legislation appears to be a non-starter.
Despite the legislature approving the bill, NPR reports findings from a recent poll in the state which shows "84 percent of likely state voters and 87 percent of gun owners support or strongly support the existing law requiring a state permit and gun safety training to carry concealed firearms." Twelve amendments to improve safety measures within the legislation were rejected, with the sole change adopted being a tax credit for any permit costs.
Finally, West Virginia has other problems that may be exacerbated by more gun proliferation. The state takes a hard line against domestic abusers and has passed several measures to keep such people from owning guns, but there is no process for removing guns from the possession of abusers, The Associated Press reports.
As Everytown for Gun Safety lawyer Jonas Oransky notes, "There's no accountability, and if the person is already a gun owner, there's just no process for enforcing the law."
Ultimately, West Virginia is unlikely to pass such a law while Gov. Tomblin is still in office, but the state should refrain from passing it after his term ends. Gun ownership should exist with common sense rules, and this law seeks to dismantle some of those rules.