Yesterday, Senate Bill 317 passed in the West Virginia House Judiciary Committee by a voice vote. SB 317, sponsored by state Senator John Unger (D-16), is a statewide firearms preemption bill which would bring Charleston and three other cities that currently have and enforce local gun control ordinances into uniformity with the rest of the state. As previously reported, your NRA has worked very closely in Charleston with many state legislators over the past few weeks to craft legislation that would clarify, change and restrict the municipal regulation of your gun rights. SB 317 would now do the following:
- Remove the “grandfathered” regulations in Charleston and other municipalities that allow regulations like a three-day “waiting period” on handguns and the purchase of one handgun a month.
- Eliminate the ability of municipalities to regulate the carrying of firearms in municipally-owned property that is rented out to private businesses such as those in Martinsburg.
- Limit those buildings a municipality may restrict and regulate the carrying of a firearm to itemized and specific locations like courthouses and city halls.
- Allow for the storage of firearms in personal vehicles on municipal property when locked and out of sight.
Tuesday, March 4, House Bill 4431 passed in the state Senate Judiciary Committee by a voice vote. HB 4431, sponsored by Delegate Randy Swartzmiller (D-1), would clarify the distinction between hunters and shooters in the field and would allow shooters who are in possession of a firearm, in or near the woods, to be protected from unnecessary interference by a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officer based solely on possession of a firearm.
Monday, March 3, House Bill 4186 also passed in the state Senate Judiciary Committee by a voice vote. HB 4186, sponsored by Delegate Rupie Phillips (D-24), would clarify and make uniform the language of West Virginia’s concealed carry statutes. After passage of HB 4186 by both legislative chambers and enactment by the Governor, this bill language will be sent to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) for further review. The review by BATFE should ensure that valid carry permit holders will be exempt from the national instant criminal background check (NICS) when purchasing a firearm.
SB 317 has been sent to the House of Delegates, and HB 4431 and HB 4186 now go to the Senate floor for passage. We fully expect these bills will be passed and sent to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) by midnight this Saturday, adjournment for the 2014 legislative session. The NRA thanks you for contacting members of these key committees to ensure these important pro-gun bills remained a priority this session. Please continue contacting your state legislators in support of final passage of these bills in their respective legislative chambers.
Click here for contact information for your two state Senators.
Click here for contact information for your state Delegate(s).