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Ohio, Pennsylvania won’t recognize no-permit carry

WHEELING, W.Va. — Beginning on May 26, West Virginia residents will no longer need a permit to carry a concealed weapon – but they would be wise to leave it at home if they travel out of state.

The state Legislature first passed the permitless carry law in February at the urging of the National Rifle Association and West Virginia Citizens Defense League. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed the bill on March 3, but the House of Delegates on Friday overrode the veto, and on Saturday the state Senate followed suit.

The new law places West Virginia with Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Vermont and Wyoming as “constitutional carry” states – meaning residents are not required to have a concealed carry permit. It does away with the permit and training requirement for people 21 and older who want to carry a concealed weapon.

However, the new law brings into question reciprocity agreements between the states, particularly those bordering West Virginia.

As it stands today, holding a concealed carry permit in West Virginia also allows a person to carry concealed in some other states. Without the permit, though, West Virginians would not be able to cross into Ohio or Pennsylvania with a concealed handgun.

Ohio County Sheriff Pat Butler said he urges residents to go through the training and get their concealed carry permits to avoid possible arrest in other states.

“Regardless of this new law, West Virginia residents may still obtain a concealed carry permit, and I would like to see them do so because there is reciprocity between the states,” Butler said. “People who do not have a concealed carry permit could be arrested in other states (if they carry concealed). It is a felony offense in Ohio.”

Trooper Matthew Jardine of the Pennsylvania State Police’s Washington County detachment said people without valid permits cannot carry in the Keystone State.

“If you do not have a valid concealed carry permit from a state that Pennsylvania recognizes through reciprocity, you cannot carry concealed in Pennsylvania,” he said. “Carrying concealed means having a weapon anywhere in the passenger compartment of your vehicle.”

As an example, according to Jardine, many people travel through Pennsylvania to get from Morgantown to Wheeling. A valid concealed carry permit is required in that instance if the weapon is inside the vehicle in the manner Jardine described above.

Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, said, “Ohio recognizes the concealed handgun license of any non-resident who has a valid concealed handgun license from any other state, regardless of whether Ohio has entered into a reciprocity agreement with that state. Because of Ohio’s recognition of those licenses, the Attorney General has confirmed automatic reciprocity for Ohio license holders with several additional states.”

Butler said the new law also presents a safety issue for law enforcement.

“You will have people who never had a gun in their hand before, or never practiced or trained with one, going out with a gun tucked in their pants,” he said. “It is absurd. It seems like the lawmakers were more interested in satisfying big interest groups instead of doing what they were elected to do as it pertains to the safety of the public.”

Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger also expressed concern about officer safety.

“There is a gun on every call to which we respond-that being our weapons,” he said. “Now, we not only have to worry about retaining our own weapons, we have to worry about everybody else who could be carrying.”

Schwertfeger said the new law presents an increased hazard to police officers across the state.

“This is very short-sighted on the part of legislators,” he said. “A lot of irresponsible people with no firearm training will be packing.”

Keith Morgan, president of the West Virginia Citizens Defense League, did not immediately respond to several calls for comment.

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