By PHIL KABLER
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A National Rifle Association-backed bill to make private businesses let employees and visitors have guns in vehicles parked on private property passed the House of Delegates Tuesday on an 85-14 vote, but with some opposition from both sides of the aisle.
That included House Judiciary Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer, who said he was casting his first “no” vote on a pro-gun bill (House Bill 4187), in part, because he said it will hurt the state’s ability to compete for manufacturing and chemical processing plants.
He said 22 states have similar laws, but said all of the 16 laws he studied in preparation for Tuesday’s floor debate make exceptions for chemical manufacturers, oil and gas refineries, and other factories that have secured areas.
Shott said the proposed West Virginia law provides no exceptions for private businesses, including the burgeoning ethylene petrochemical industry, which will make it difficult to compete with states like Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana — states that carve out exceptions barring firearms on chemical plant grounds.
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