Against the handguns concealed carry wishes of law enforcement, legislators at the House and the Senate voted to annul Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto of a piece of legislation that made it legal for residents to conceal carry without the need of a permit. Gov. Tomblin signed the veto last Thursday in a rare veto-signing ceremony that counted with the presence of dozens of police officers. Many claim the governor carried the ceremony o convince legislators to avoid going against the veto.
Instead of standing with the governor, and allowing the state to make it hard for WV residents to uphold their right to self-defense, legislators fired back.
On Friday, March 4th, the House voted 64 to 33 to annul the governor’s veto and on Saturday, March 5t, the Senate voted 23 to 11, against the veto. The bipartisan effort is gaining a great deal of attention.
From the Charleston Gazette-Mail:
“‘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,’ Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, said Friday. ‘They want the permit process and the training associated with that, which I completely respect and admire their position, but the constitutional authority to carry a weapon is inherent in our Second Amendment.’
Carmichael acknowledged that he knew of no court that had ever ruled the concealed weapons permit process to be unconstitutional. He also said he did not think the current permitting process was unconstitutional.
Tomblin issued a statement immediately after the override, condemning the Legislature’s actions.
‘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,’ Tomblin said. ‘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.’
Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, noted that public opinion polling was overwhelmingly against allowing permitless concealed weapons.
‘This bill is not just a slap in the face to the governor, which often times many of us are happy to do,’ Palumbo said, ‘it’s a slap in the State Police’s face, sheriffs, municipal police officers and the vast majority of our constituents.’
Sen. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, said allowing permitless concealed guns would act as a deterrent to crime.
‘We’re giving the people the ability to protect themselves without paying a fee,” Blair said. “I can hear freedom knocking on the doors in West Virginia and that’s exactly what this does.’
Two Republicans, Sen. Mike Hall, R-Putnam, and Sen. Bob Ashley, R-Roane, voted with eight Democrats to oppose the bill.
Sen. Mike Woelfel, D-Cabell, had voted for the bill last month, when it was initially passed, but changed his vote and voted against the override, explaining that he was swayed by law enforcement.
‘My police chief called me yesterday, my sheriff called me yesterday,’ Woelfel said. ‘I was wrong'”
HB 4145, the bill vetoed last Thursday by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, allows anyone over the age of 21 to carry a concealed handgun without a permit, while individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 are still required to obtain a permit first. The bill gives incentives to gun carriers, by providing a $50 tax credit for those who choose to get the necessary training for a permit. To Tomblin, the tax credit tied to the bill is “ill advised,” due to the state’s current budgetary woes.
With both chambers overriding the governor’s veto, changes should go into effect 90 days after the law is official, which should happen in late May. With this bill, WV becomes the seventh state to allow its citizens to conceal carry even if they do not have a permit.