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West Virginia Governor Signs NRA-Backed Bills Into Law

Monday, April 2, 2012

Today, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed three NRA-backed bills into law: SB 149, SB 353 and SB 478.  All three laws will take effect on June 8, 2012.

Senate Bill 149, introduced by state Senate Majority Leader John Unger (D-16), will mandate police authorities return all seized firearms, not currently being held as evidence in a criminal investigation, to the lawful owner if able. If that owner is not found or unable to take possession of the firearm, SB 149 will require the sale of these firearms at a public auction to a licensed firearms dealer. Current West Virginia law allows for seized guns to be immediately destroyed. SB 149 will prevent the wasteful and expensive practice of destroying firearms that could be re-circulated through licensed dealers to the retail market.

Senate Bill 353, introduced by state Senate President Jeff Kessler (D-2) and Senate Majority Leader Unger, will 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 law will further conform state law to federal law and lead to greater reciprocity for permit holders throughout the United States.

Senate Bill 478, also sponsored by state Senator Unger, would create an apprentice hunting license that is available to West Virginia residents and non-residents alike. The licenses established pursuant to SB 478 are similar to current youth hunting licenses, but will 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 will allow the “apprentice” to be introduced to hunting without having to take the otherwise required hunter education course. 

This license will 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 worked 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. 

We thank NRA members across the Mountaineer State who answered the call and contacted their state legislators during 2012 legislative session.

Please contact Governor Tomblin by e-mail and thank him for signing these pro-gun/pro-hunting bills into law.

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