West Virginia joins a group of eight states this week that allow so-called “constitutional carry,” meaning its residents may legally carry a concealed firearm without a permitting process.
The state House voted on the measure Friday and officially overrode a gubernatorial veto on Saturday, according to this story from thinkprogress.org. The law, which goes into effect on May 26, does away with the state’s current permit and training program for people 21 and older who want to carry concealed.
The law was supported by the NRA, but opposed by local law enforcement.
“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 the West Virginians at risk,” Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said in the story.
The permitting process also included a background check and a gun safety class.
“Self-defense is a fundamental right that must be respected,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, in the story. “Law-abiding West Virginians are now free to choose the method of self-defense that best suits their needs. The NRA and our five million members are pleased that the legislature voted in support of West Virginians’ Second Amendment freedoms.”
The state’s Attorney General, Patrick Morrissey, said in the story that the new law wouldn’t put law enforcement at risk or lead to an increase in gun deaths.
“As the chief legal officer of the state and the person in charge of criminal matters for the state at the West Virginia Supreme Court and in federal courts, I know that this legislation will not impact public safety,” he said after the veto. “If this bill is enacted, we will not only expand freedom, but we will keep our citizens protected.”
Gov. Tomblin vetoed a similar bill last year, but the legislature didn’t have time to vote on overriding it before the session ended, the story says.
The other states with constitutional carry laws include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Vermont, and Wyoming.