West Virginia Passes Three Gun Bills

April 2, 2014

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By:  Rob Jones

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms has been recognized by the General Government; but the best security of that right after all is, the military spirit, that taste for martial exercises, which has always distinguished the free citizens of these States….Such men form the best barrier to the liberties of America” – (Gazette of the United States, October 14, 1789.)

“What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty…. Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.” (Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, spoken during floor debate over the Second Amendment [ I Annals of Congress at 750 {August 17, 1789}])

As you may have noticed, I’ve been away for a couple of weeks. I’m back now and more driven than ever to discuss the goings on of the Mountain State. What better way to start back, than to discuss guns and the current bills in West Virginia? I opened this column with a couple of of quotes on the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Many Liberals will argue that the 2nd Amendment was never intended to cover todays modern semi-automatic firearms, commonly dubbed “assault weapons”. Liberals love to scream about the dangers of these weapons, the dangers of high capacity magazines, and how we, to be a civilized nation, must control these weapons and ban them. My argument back to them is this… If the 4th Amendment covers our cell phones, desk top/lap top computers, tablets, and other electronic devices, then the 2nd Amendment covers these weapons.

As a police officer, I deal with weapons quite often. I carry a weapon both on duty and off duty. Obviously, on duty, I carry my weapon on my duty belt, in a holster, in plain view. When off duty, I carry a weapon, but I carry my weapon concealed, not in plain view, along with my badge and ID card. I can tell you from 15 years worth of experience, that there are way more concealed weapons being carried around you, than you can imagine. I encounter people carrying concealed weapons daily. I don’t harass these people, nor do any police officers that I know. Contrary to popular belief, law enforcement supports concealed carry, by law abiding citizens.

Unfortunately, police cannot be everywhere at once. Sometimes, its necessary for a citizen to defend themselves. I cannot think of even one valid reason for any citizen to have to submit, be victimized, or run from any criminal. We the people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Do we not? I think that anyone, who thinks we have to be victims, thinks we have to submit, or thinks we should run, is nuts. We have a gift of life. A gift given to us by God. A life tht I feel we should be expected to defend.  West Virginia has had three Pro-Gun Bills pass the Legislature and now await Governor Tomblin to sign them. These Bills are:

Senate Bill 317, sponsored by state Senator John Unger (D-16), is a statewide firearms preemption bill which will bring Charleston and three other cities that currently have and enforce local gun control ordinances into uniformity with the rest of the state.

Governor Tomblin has signed this Bill. Basically, SB 317 means that certain municapalities will have to bring their city ordinences into conformity with WV State law. That any municipal gun ordinence cannot be more stringent than State law. I see this as a good bill. Some municipalities, such as Charleston, have more restrictive gun control laws that the State of West Virginia.

House Bill 4186, sponsored by Delegate Rupie Phillips (D-24), will clarify and make uniform the language of West Virginia’s concealed carry statutes.

HB 4186 does nothing more than clarify some of the language in the Mountain State’s concealed carry law. I’m not going to get into the details here, but you can find the language and the changes easily, on the internet.

House Bill 4431, sponsored by Delegate Randy Swartzmiller (D-1), will 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.

HB 4431 just amends and reenacts §20-2-37 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to clarifying that persons who  possess firearms, hunting dogs or other indicia of hunting or taking wildlife in or near fields, woods or streams do not necessarily need to have a hunting license; and requiring the totality of the circumstances be considered before it can be concluded that a person has been hunting, fishing, trapping or taking wildlife.

These bills were also brought along with a unanimus vote in the House of Delegates, to clarify a 2007 law that was meant to protect firearm ownership during states of emergency. This means that the State of West Virginia cannot come in and confiscate anyone’s firearms and gives us the right to sue if the governemnt tries to confiscate their firearms or ammunition.

These are all welcomed votes, by law abiding citizens, who enjoy shooting sports, conceal carry, hunt, or just enjoy shooting. My only complaint is that West Virginia did not pass any legilastion that would protect our rights, under the 2nd Amendment, from the Federal Government. Some states have passed state laws forbidding the enforcement of any federal laws, designed to plunder our 2nd Amendment. I would like to see a similar law passed and signed, in the Mountain State. We still need protection from any Federal Government gun grabbers, to include measure supported by Senator Joe Manchin. Again, this is a great start and I’m glad to see the progress so far, but there is more to do.

The City of Charleston is suing over language in SB 317, which requires cities to allow firearms in recreation centers, as long as the carrier has a valid concealed carry permit and the firearm is stored. Charleston believes that they have a right to restrict the carry of firearms in recreation centers that house educational type services. If Charleston wins, that will make the carry of a firearm into recreation centers a felony. Charleston Mayer, Danny Jones said, “If we do not prevail, we hope there will be no trouble at the recreation centers. If there are either shootings or shootouts, we hope none of the innocent children that take part in the programs there are hit with any stray rounds of ammunition.”

The bottom line is that any law abiding citizen. who conceal carries, isn’t the type of people that anyone needs to worry about. I am confident isn saying that there are numerous times, where a law abiding citizen has been carrying a concealed weapon around children and no one was injured. No one was threatened. In that respect, it saddens me that Mayor Jones would say such a calous thing. Think about this… If you are near 150 people in any given day, I would be fine telling you that you have probably been around at least 25 to 30 people who were carrying a concealed weapon. You didn’t know. You weren’t harmed. You weren’t intimidated. People choose to conceal carry for many reasons, but the common thread is that they are all good, hard working, decent people, that mean no one harm, but wants to have the ability to defend themselves, their friends, and their families, if the need would arise.

Until next time… God Bless You! God Bless West Virginia! God Bless America!

 


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