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The West Virginia House of Delegates has approved a bill that would make it legal for state residents to carry a concealed firearm without a permit, bringing the state one step closer to constitutional carry. After delegates debated for about three hours over 14 proposed amendments, the bill was passed by a 68-31 vote.

Currently, residents may carry openly, in an exposed holster, without a permit, but a permit is required to carry concealed, according to this story from Fox News.

The Committee Substitute for House Bill 4145 will allow people to carry firearms for “self-defense purposes” without a permit if they are 21 or older, according to this story from If it passes, West Virginia will be the eighth state to allow concealed carry without a permit, along with Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Those ages 18 through 20 will still be required to get a permit to carry concealed, under the new bill, and would be required to receive firearms training. The bill also increases penalties for felonies committed with a gun, the Fox story says.

The bill now heads to the state Senate, but Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a similar bill last year over safety concerns brought forth by law enforcement.

The lead sponsor of the bill, Delegate Saira Blair (R-Berkley), is 19 years old and a student at West Virginia University and would be unable to carry concealed under the proposed legislation.

“I tell you now, I am scared,” Blair said in the story. “I’m not going to stop doing what I do on a daily basis. I’m not going to stop going to the mall. I’m not going to stop going to the movies. I’m not going to stop going to church. I would feel better as a law abiding citizen if I could protect myself.”

When we reported last month that when the bill passed the House Committee on the Judiciary, it was brought to light that the current permitting system requires the payment of a $100 tax for those who wish to carry concealed. Some have criticized this as forcing residents to pay for a constitutional right.