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West Virginia Sen. Manchin mum on national concealed carry bill

By RUSTY MARKS

The State Journal

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., hasn’t yet weighed in on a bill that would allow for the concealed carry of firearms just about anywhere in the country that currently allows concealed carry.

U.S. Senate Joe Manchin

On Dec. 6, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act by a vote of 231-198. The bill would allow citizens who can legally carry a concealed weapon in one state to carry concealed in other states as well.

West Virginia’s three Republican representatives all voted in favor of the bill, which also would make changes to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System intended to encourage states to report data on people prohibited from owning guns and make it easier to remove incorrect data from the system.

Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., said he was “proud” to be a co-sponsor of the bill.

“For too long, law abiding gun owners have had their constitutional right to keep and bear arms hindered by government bureaucrats,” said Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va. “This is a commonsense bill that would implement concealed carry reciprocity across the country.”

Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., said the bill provides gun owners with a unified set of national rules, as well as makes changes that would result in better reporting of criminals.

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., sponsored a similar bill in the U.S. Senate called the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.

“The Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act affirms our Second Amendment rights by allowing law-abiding Americans to exercise self-defense while respecting the power of states,” said Capito spokeswoman Ashley Berrang.

Under the provisions of both the House and Senate versions of the bill, a person who wants to carry a concealed weapon in another state must be allowed to legally carry a concealed weapon in his or her home state and carry a valid photo ID. The 29-page House bill goes beyond the provisions of the Senate version to include the proposed changes to the NICS provisions.

So far, Manchin has not had much to say about the proposed legislation. Manchin’s staff did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

However, Manchin was a sponsor of similar legislation in 2012.

“This commonsense legislation would cut down on the layers of regulations facing law-abiding Americans who have the right to own guns and use them responsibly,” Manchin said at the time. “If we can streamline and simplify some of our rules governing gun ownership, everybody wins — especially the 65,000 West Virginians who hold concealed carry permits.”

The 2012 Senate bill also contained language that would have prohibited someone who was ineligible to get a concealed weapons permit in their own state from getting a permit from a less restrictive state in order to carry concealed at home.

In 2015, Manchin was among 35 Democrats who agreed to co-sponsor another concealed carry reciprocity bill.

Manchin told the conservative news and opinion website The Daily Caller in April that he would have to review the latest concealed carry reciprocity bills before deciding whether or not to support them.

In 2016, the West Virginia Legislature passed a law allowing state residents to carry concealed weapons without a permit while inside the state. If a national concealed carry reciprocity bill were to pass, state residents would be permitted to carry concealed in other states as well.

Staff Writer Rusty Marks can be reached at 304-415-1480 or email at [email protected]

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