West Virginia: House Committees to Consider NRA-Backed Bills Tomorrow

Posted on March 5, 2012

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Tomorrow, the state House Judiciary Committee will consider Senate Bill 353, a background reform bill, at 9:00 a.m. in Room 410M of the State Capitol.  This is expected to be the last committee hearing before this legislation makes its way to the House of Delegates for a floor vote.

Introduced by state Senate Majority Leader John Unger (D-16) and Senate President Jeff Kessler (D-2), SB 353 would expedite the process of purchasing a firearm for valid concealed carry permit holders by making West Virginia eligible for an exemption from the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  Such carry permit holders have already cleared a background check.  This legislation would further conform state law to federal law and lead to greater reciprocity for permit holders throughout the United States.

Please contact members of the state House Judiciary Committee TODAY and respectfully urge them to support SB 353.  Contact information for this committee can be found here.

In addition to SB 353, Senate Bill 478, a pro-hunting bill, is scheduled to be heard tomorrow in the state House Finance Committee.  This hearing will take place at 1:30 p.m. in Room 460-M of the Capitol.  SB 478 was assigned to the House Finance Committee after passing in the House Natural Resources Committee last week with a “do pass” recommendation.  Sponsored by state Senate Majority Leader John Unger (D-16), SB 478 would create an apprentice hunting license that is available to West Virginia residents and non-residents.

The licenses established pursuant to SB 478 are similar to current youth hunting licenses but would be available to apprentice hunters of any age.  Apprentice hunters will be encouraged to go afield while under the supervision of a person eighteen years of age or older who possesses a valid West Virginia hunting license.  This would allow the “apprentice” to be introduced to hunting without having to take the otherwise required hunter education course.

Lengthy hunter education requirements often discourage potential hunters from going afield because they are unwilling to dedicate the necessary time to complete the course in order to pursue an activity that they are simply trying out.  The apprentice license program will allow them to become hooked on hunting while under the supervision of a mentor.  Eventually, the goal is for these apprentices to complete a hunter education course so they can hunt on their own, which has largely been the case in the states that have similar programs.  Apprentice hunting license programs throughout the country have issued more than 600,000 licenses to date and these hunters have proven to be safer than all other classes of hunters in what is already one of the safest recreational activities in America.

This license would allow supervised, novice hunters to go afield for three hunting seasons within any five consecutive year window of time without having to take a required hunter education course.  The NRA is working closely with the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources on this important legislation and its efforts to sustain and enhance the time-honored tradition of hunting are appreciated.

Please contact members of the state House Finance Committee TODAY and respectfully urge them to support SB 478.  Contact information for this committee can be found here.

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