For a second year, West Virginia lawmakers have taken up a bill to allow people to carry concealed handguns without obtaining registered permits and training.|
National Rifle Association lobbyist Dakota Moore lobbied groups and legislators, with Keith Carte of the West Virginia Citizens Defense League, spoke in favor of the bill saying it would allow people who can't afford the $100 permit fee to defend themselves.
Currently, pistol owners pay $100 for a five year permit.
Opponents, including the WV Sheriffs Association, said allowing people to carry guns without training or background checks endangers police and public safety.
WV pistol owners can already carry exposed guns without any permits or checks.
"What this bill amounts to is elimination of a tax on a fundamental right to self defense," National Rifle Association lobbyist Dakota Moore told the committee members.
"This is about money, quite simply. The sheriffs hate to relinquish the fees they accept in exchange for you to exercise your fundamental right of self-defense," he said.
The Sheriffs group says they are not against the Second Amendment rights, but support training and registration.
Dee Price Childers, of the state chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, cited national and state polls that she said show overwhelming support for requiring conceal-carry permits.
She cited polls conducted last spring showing that nearly 90 percent of Americans and 83 percent of West Virginians favor the existing law.
"Obviously, HB 4145 does not represent the will of most West Virginians," she said.
Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a similar bill last year, by a 32-2 margin in the Senate and 71-29 in the House. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed the bill, citing "overwhelming opposition" from law enforcement officers statewide.
Last year, WV legislators introduced about 30 bills expanding gun rights.