West Virginian adults will be able to carry concealed handguns without a permit or training. State lawmakers overrode their governor’s veto of a bill that local law enforcement has deemed unsafe.
The legislation, HB 4145, allows for those over 21 to carry concealed handguns without a permit. The state required training for gun owners who applied for a permit, but now learning how to properly handle a firearm is optional, Charleston Gazette-Mail reports.
Gun owners aged between 18 and 21 will still need to apply for a permit to legally carry a concealed firearm.
On March 3, Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia vetoed the bill, backed by state police officers.
On March 4, the West Virginia House overrode the veto by a vote of 64-33. On March 5, the Senate overrode by 23-11 votes, sealing the deal.
“While we completely respect the law enforcement community, we also will always come down on the side of the Constitution and ensuring that our rights are protected,” said the Senate Majority Leader Republican State Sen. Mitch Carmichael of Jackson.
Tomblin expressed disappointment in the override, stating that “it’s unfortunate that the concerns of officers from every law enforcement branch in the state … have been ignored by today’s actions.”
While some West Virginia Democratic lawmakers joined their Republican colleagues in overriding the veto, many have expressed frustration with the bill.
“The bill is not just a slap in the face to the governor … it’s a slap in the State Police’s face, sheriffs, municipal police officers and the vast majority of our constituents,” said Democratic state Sen. Corey Palumbo of Kanawha.
The legislation does offer a $50 tax credit to gun owners who opt to receive firearm training and imposes stricter penalties for possessing firearms while committing a crime.
“Self-defense is a fundamental right that must be respected,” said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox. “Law-abiding West Virginians are now free to choose the method of self-defense that best suits their needs.”
The new law will go into effect on May 26. West Virginia will become the eighth state to allow concealed carry without a permit.
The other seven states are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Vermont and Wyoming, according to Breitbart.