Stand and Deliver

December 26, 2013

By: Rob Jones

In a previous column, entitled “Home Grown”, I introduced you to the West Virginia Citizens Defense League (WVCDL). In that short column, I talked mainly about the WVCDL’s case against the City of Charleston’s gun ordinances. Today, I want to talk about what things the WVCDL is trying to get done now, for the Great State of West Virginia.

The WVCDL is currently working to enact several critical and long-overdue bills for West Virginia gun owners. The bills include:

  • Concealed handgun license reciprocity reform to enable West Virginia’s CHL holders to lawfully carry in the 33 other right-to-carry states that have adopted reciprocity legislation and to enable the millions of our fellow Americans in other states who have CHLs to legally carry while visiting West Virginia.
  • Protection of CHL holders’ personal information, which is currently available as a public record to anyone from an anti-gun newspaper seeking to intimidate CHL holders to nosy neighbors to an abusive ex-spouse who wants to know where you currently live.
  • Removing Social Security numbers from CHL cards, whose current presence is both in violation of federal law and makes our CHLs a one stop shop for identity thieves who get their hands on our wallets.
  • Changing the background check process for all CHL applications to include a check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to enable CHL holders to purchase guns from gun dealers without an additional background check at the time of purchase without having to worry about mistakes of identity or computer failures delaying the lawful purchase of a gun.
  • Reducing the excessive fees currently charged for CHLs in West Virginia.  Compared to our neighboring right-to-carry states, West Virginia charges fees of between 167% and 360% of what Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and Pennsylvania CHL holders are charged by their states.
  • Allowing members of the military and honorably discharged veterans to submit their proof of military service as an acceptable form of proof of training to obtain a CHL.
  • Restoring the right of individuals to legally carry in some publicly-owned buildings where carrying has been increasingly prohibited in recent years.
  • Castle Doctrine legislation  to protect our right to self-defense from criminals from erosion by the judiciary and protect innocent victims from unjust prosecutions and lawsuits.
  • Reforming emergency management laws to prevent the confiscation of lawfully owned and possessed firearms from law-abiding citizens as was done in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

All of these things would be welcome additions to West Virginia laws and much needed changes to the way CHL holders are looked upon and treated. Let’s take a look at some of the things that the WVCDL has accomplished in the last several years:

2013

WVCDL pushed and secured passage of the following in the Legislature:
  1. Lane Amendment: Prohibiting home rule cities from having or creating restrictive gun ordinances, resulting in near total state-wide preemption. PASSED
  2. HB2471: Prevents the confiscation of firearms or ammunition during a state of emergency, and makes it illegal to restrict carry or ownership of firearms during such. PASSED
  3. SB369: Allows West Virginia to enter into concealed carry reciprocity agreements with any state that is willing.  This will increase reciprocal states.  PASSED
  4. HB2866: Provides an exception to the “500 foot rule” for your own property. PASSED
  5. HB2431: Clarifies mental health restrictions, allows for restorations of rights with expungement and various other CCW cleanups. PASSED

2013

WVCDL authored and got the following bills introduced in the Legislature:
  1. HB 2560: eliminating the current prohibition against possessing firearms on school property for individuals who are licensed to carry a concealed weapon.
  2. HB 2558: removing the “grandfather” clause found in the state’s current preemption code, this bill would standardize the enforcement of firearms laws across the state, as determined by the Legislature.
  3. HB 2572, a bill that cleans up hunting code and clarifies the circumstances under which a person may possess certain firearms while afield hunting or engaging in other outdoor recreational activities.

2012

WVCDL authored and got the following bills introduced in the Legislature:
  1. WVCDL GOPA 2012: WVCDL’s West Virginia Gun Owner Protection Act of 2012 was a 500+ page bill that makes wide-ranging improvements in numerous West Virginia gun laws.   Follow the link for more in-depth information on the WVCDL GOPA of 2012.

 

2010

WVCDL batted a perfect 1.000 against anti-gun legislation:
    • Delegate John Doyle’s perennial one-handgun-per-month gun rationing bill,    HB 2299,   again died a silent death in the House Judiciary Committee.
    • WVCDL played an instrumental role in defeating    HB 4422,   a very dangerous proposal that would have    taken away a person’s right to possess a firearm without due process   by expanding the prohibition on possessing firearms while subject to a domestic violence protective order, by eliminating the statute’s provision limiting its application to orders issued after a court hearing at which the respondent had an opportunity to participate. WVCDL led the opposition to this bill at a House Judiciary Committee public hearing held during WVCDL Lobby Day 2010, on February 15, 2010.
    • WVCDL defeated    SB 516,   a misguided and ultimately ineffective proposal that would have required a person to obtain an    annual range use permit   to use any public shooting range operated by the Division of Natural Resources.
WVCDL authored and got the following bills introduced in the Legislature:
    1. HB 4014: providing current and retired law-enforcement officers access to the necessary certification programs for certification to carry concealed firearms nationwide under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004.  This bill unanimously passed the Senate but died in the House Judiciary Committee.
    2. HB 4265: strengthening language limiting the ability of public officials to abuse emergency management powers laws to infringe upon firearm rights.
    3. HB 4280: clarifying the regulation of how firearms may be carried or transported. This bill would have amended various hunting regulations to clarify an individual’s right to openly carry a firearm in vehicles and wooded areas for lawful, non-hunting purposes such as personal protection. The existing regulations are confusing, inconsistently applied by various law-enforcement agencies, and have been an occasional source of harassment.
    4. HB 4305: strengthening and expanding the state firearms preemption law.
    5. HB 4325: Alaska/Arizona/Vermont-style right to carry without a license.
    6. SB 164: repealing the Sate Capitol carry ban.
    7. SB 170: enacting a state statute prohibiting firearm “straw” purchases.  A similar bill, SB 515, passed the Legislature but was vetoed by Governor Manchin.
WVCDL Conducts Legislative Candidate Surveys
WVCDL conducted its second biennial legislative candidate survey of candidates for the Senate and house of Delegates.

 

2009

WVCDL worked to expand reciprocity with other states:
    • WVCDL supported HB 3314, which repealed the “resident-license-only” limitation in West Virginia’s reciprocity law that previously denied recognition to nonresident permits from states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Virginia.
    • WVCDL worked closely with Attorney General Darrell McGraw to establish reciprocity with Alaska, Delaware, and North Dakota.
WVCDL batted a perfect 1.000 against anti-gun legislation:
    • Delegate John Doyle’s perennial one-handgun-per-month gun rationing bill, HB 2299, again died a silent death in the House Judiciary Committee.
    • The Legislature failed to pass HB 3248, which would have allowed members of the Legislature (but not the rest of us) to carry concealed weapons without a license.
    • WVCDL defeated an extremely misguided proposal (HB 3300 and SB 590) that would have required concealed handgun license holders to obtain Scarlet Letter driver’s licenses containing a special indication the person has a CHL.
WVCDL authored and got the following bills introduced in the Legislature:
    1. HB 2790 and SB 147: repealing the Sate Capitol carry ban.
    2. HB 3331: strengthening language limiting the ability of public officials to abuse emergency management powers laws to infringe upon firearm rights.
    3. HB 3333: clarifying the regulation of how firearms may be carried or transported. This bill would have amended various hunting regulations to clarify an individual’s right to openly carry a firearm in vehicles and wooded areas for lawful, non-hunting purposes such as personal protection. The existing regulations are confusing, inconsistently applied by various law-enforcement agencies, and have been an occasional source of harassment.
    4. HB 3335: strengthening and expanding the state firearms preemption law.
    5. SB 139: enacting a state statute prohibiting firearm “straw” purchases.
    6. SB 148: Concealed handgun reciprocity reform — universal recognition. This bill would have more than doubled the number of states with which West Virginia would be able to establish concealed carry reciprocity by recognizing all other states’ licenses.
    7. SB 305: providing current and retired law-enforcement officers access to the necessary certification programs for certification to carry concealed firearms nationwide under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004.  This bill unanimously passed the Senate but died in the House Judiciary Committee.

 

2008

WVCDL worked to expands reciprocity with other states:
WVCDL worked closely with Attorney General Darrell McGraw to establish reciprocity with Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi,  Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Utah.
WVCDL batted a perfect 1.000 against anti-gun legislation:
    • WVCDL was the only organization that opposed a proposed rule of the Lottery Commission that would have banned weapons in the casino area of the state’s four racetracks. Thanks to our efforts and the behind-the-scenes work of Delegate Scott Varner, D-Marshall, the House Judiciary Committee amended SB 417 to require the Lottery Commission to remove the carry ban language when it finally promulgates the racetrack table games rules later this spring. SB 417 ultimately passed and became law with WVCDL’s amendment.
    • When legislators attempted to add a $30 surcharge to every concealed handgun license–raising the total fees from $90 to $120 per license–WVCDL was the only organization that lobbied of the House Finance Committee to remove the proposed fee increases from HB 4471.  Thanks to our efforts and the work of committee member Delegate Sharon Spencer, D-Kanawha, this and many other fee increases were removed from HB 4471. Although one unrelated fee increase was restored to the bill in the Senate, HB 4471 became law without any fee increase for concealed handgun licenses.
    • Delegate John Doyle’s perennial one-handgun-per-month gun rationing bill, HB 2375, again died a silent death in the House Judiciary Committee.
WVCDL authored and got the following bills introduced in the Legislature:
    1. SB 136: repealing the Sate Capitol carry ban.
    2. SB 152: providing current and retired law-enforcement officers access to the necessary certification programs for certification to carry concealed firearms nationwide under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004.  This bill unanimously passed the Senate but died in the House Judiciary Committee.
    3. SB 178: nonresident concealed handgun licenses.
    4. SB 228 and HB 4683: Concealed handgun reciprocity reform — universal recognition. This bill would have more than doubled the number of states with which West Virginia would be able to establish concealed carry reciprocity by recognizing all other states’ licenses.
    5. SB 230: reducing concealed handgun license fees from $90 to $50 per 5-year license. This bill was rewritten by the Senate Judiciary Committee to provide for a minor tweaking of the reciprocity law and unanimously passed the Senate, but died in the House Judiciary Committee. If the House Judiciary Committee had acted on this bill, it would have been used as a vehicle for other desired improvements in the concealed carry law.
    6. SB 252: enacting a state statute prohibiting firearm “straw” purchases.
    7. SB 319: clarifying the regulation of how firearms may be carried or transported. This bill would have amended various hunting regulations to clarify an individual’s right to openly carry a firearm in vehicles and wooded areas for lawful, non-hunting purposes such as personal protection. The existing regulations are confusing, inconsistently applied by various law-enforcement agencies, and have been an occasional source of harassment.
    8. SB 728: strengthening language limiting the ability of public officials to abuse emergency management powers laws to infringe upon firearm rights.
    9. SB 730: eliminating obsolete weapons’ licensing statutory language.
    10. SB 732: strengthening and expanding the state firearms preemption law.
WVCDL Publishes Responses to First Candidate Surveys
WVCDL Defends Preemption Laws

WVCDL stopped a proposed city property gun ban in the City of Ranson that would have violated the municipal gun control preemption statute.

 

2007

WVCDL authored and got the following bills introduced in the Legislature:
    1. SB 647: providing current and retired law-enforcement officers access to the necessary certification programs for certification to carry concealed firearms nationwide under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004.
    2. SB 648: enacting a state statute prohibiting firearm “straw” purchases. This bill mirrors laws passed in 2006 in Virginia and 2008 in Georgia that are designed to prevent gun-grabbing New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and his ilk from dispatching private investigators to licensed gun dealers in states with reasonable gun laws, where they then entice the dealers into selling a firearm to a purchaser who appears to intend to immediately resell or otherwise transfer the firearm to a prohibited possessor. These schemes were designed to allow Bloomberg to sue these dealers for their allegedly unlawful sales and have resulted in many dealers going out of business and others entering into settlement agreements that included allowing Bloomberg full access to all their records, including all Forms 4473 on file. This in turn violates the privacy of thousands of gun owners who bought their guns, legally, through the targeted dealers.
    3. SB 649: repealing the State Capitol carry ban.
    4. SB 715: strengthening and expanding the state firearms preemption law. This bill included language that would repeal the grandfather clause in the existing preemption law, preempt carry bans on all public property where the Legislature has not prohibited carrying by law, and expand the scope of preemption from local ordinances to all forms of official action.
    5. SB 716: updating and clarifying procedures for concealed handgun license background checks. This bill would have qualified West Virginia for reciprocity with Minnesota, New Mexico, and Texas, and would also have qualified licensees for an exemption from having to undergo an NICS background check when purchasing a firearm through a licensed dealer in West Virginia.
    6. SB 717: establishing nonresident concealed handgun licenses. Although imperfect, this bill would have provided an option for residents of every state to have some means of being able to lawfully carry a concealed handgun in West Virginia by removing the requirement that an applicant be a West Virginia resident. Nonresidents would have been allowed to apply to the sheriff of any county while residents would continue to be required to apply to the sheriff of their home county. The current reciprocity law limits recognition of reciprocal states’ licenses to resident licenses.
WVCDL played a key role in expanding concealed carry reciprocity after HB 3074 took effect.
    • WVCDL played an essential role in establishing reciprocity with Pennsylvania. When the West Virginia Attorney General initially could not get the necessary cooperation from the Pennsylvania Attorney General and State Police to determine whether Pennsylvania met the eligibility criteria of West Virginia’s reciprocity law, WVCDL went to work.  We contacted key Pennsylvania state officials and Pennsylvania gun rights activists who wanted a reciprocity agreement as much as we did and brought the appropriate officials in both states together to make this agreement possible.
    • WVCDL played key roles in the establishment of reciprocity agreements with Michigan, Missouri, and Tennessee by doing the legwork of identifying the officials in those states who handled reciprocity agreements and getting them in touch with the West Virginia Attorney General to establish their respective agreements.

As you can clearly see, the WVCDL has accomplished quite a bit, for an all-volunteer, grassroots organization. The WVCDL depends heavily on members and supporters to volunteer both time and energy to promote and defend our rights. The WVCDL is proud of their accomplishments, as well they should be. But the hard work is not finished. In an age of “anti-gun” and “anti-gun owner” propaganda, the State of West Virginia can rest assured that “we the people” have a calm, assertive, and above all, a rationale voice speaking for us and our rights.

I want to urge you to visit the WVCDL’s web site, “wvcdl.org”, and take a look at who they are, what they are doing, and what they have already done. Once you visit, I believe that the organization will speak for themselves. If you, like me, support the things the WVCDL are fighting for, fill out the membership page and join, as I am. West Virginia maintains a “friendly, family-next-door” kind of atmosphere, as a state and a people. That’s part of why our home state has such a reputation for tourism, hunting, fishing, camping, and sightseeing. But we cannot sit back and hope that someone else will do the fighting and defending of our rights. It’s our responsibility as West Virginian’s to stand up with those who are fighting and share in the burden. God Bless You! God Bless West Virginia! God Bless America!


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