A bill currently being considered in West Virginia would eliminate the need for residents to obtain a concealed carry permit, along with the accompanying fees, according to this story from the Register-Herald.
The problem that West Virginian handgun owners face are similar to that faced by handgun owners in Texas, before that state’s new open carry law went into effect, but on the opposite end of the spectrum. The passage of open carry in Texas means, among other things, that concealed carriers cannot be charged with a crime if they accidentally expose their firearm. In West Virginia, open carry is legal—but covering it up requires a $100 tax and a permit.
“It’s a $100 tax to put on a coat on a cold day,” West Virginia Citizens Defense League president Keith Morgan told the Register-Herald. Morgan added that the bill is “about sheriffs taking our rights and selling them back to us.”
In the story, Keith Carte said he represented the “poor people of West Virginia” who can’t afford the $100 annual permit fee.
“Times are dangerous and not just for law enforcement,” Carte said in the story. “I can’t walk the streets of Charleston without being approached by someone wanting money. I don’t go there because I’m not safe.”
Amber Perry, a Mason County mother of five, said in the story that she supports the bill because women are usually included in the discussion as either victims or statistics.
“Women are actively learning to protect themselves,” Perry said. “Women are smart and understand the value of training. We have a right to protect our own bodies and we are not going to give it up.”
Many oppose the bill, including the West Virginia Sheriff’s Association and the West Virginia Association of Counties. The director of the latter, Patti Hamilton, said state residents need training and licensing to drive a car and guns should be the same, according to the story.
The bill is heading to the state Legislature after passing the House Committee on the Judiciary with a 17-6 vote.