W.Va. Gun Carry Bill Still Generating Controversy

Published: Mar. 16, 2015 at 11:22 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A bill that would abolish West Virginia's conceal carry permit law has passed through the House and Senate, and now awaits Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's signature.

The bill continues to generate its share of attention and controversy. On Monday, it had people talking while they were on the shooting range.

For Austin Estepp and Chris Chapman, Monday's sunshine meant ample time for target practice.

Austin has been anticipating his 21st birthday so he can get his conceal carry permit. Soon, though, if Senate Bill 347 becomes law, the permit may not be mandatory.

Sponsors and supporters of the bill say a conceal permit infringes on their Second Amendment rights.

"The people who do not obey the law are carrying guns concealed already," gun owner Tim Osborne said. "We as law-abiding citizens want that equal right."

They say a permit forces them to pay for a right that's already been paid for by our forefathers

Opponents say the new leeway would create more danger than freedom.

"It shouldn't be free," Estep said. "I mean, carrying a gun is a privilege. You cant just go anywhere and carry a gun."

Both sides of the argument agree every gun owner should go through training.

"If you're going to be allowed to carry a weapon, you have to know how to use it," Osborne said.

However, the new bill will not make training a requirement.

The bill went through two amendments before being passed by the Legislature. One was changing the carrying age from 18 to 21, and the other creates harsher punishments for firearm-involved crimes.