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WV’s no-permit concealed carry effective May 24

WHEELING, W.Va. — Law enforcement throughout West Virginia will be instructed to enforce the state’s new “constitutional carry” law almost two weeks earlier than originally anticipated, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Monday.

Guidelines issued by the attorney general’s office on implementing the bill, which will allow most people to carry concealed handguns without a permit, indicate the law will go into effect May 24. Morrisey had previously advised the law would go into effect June 5.

The Republican-led Legislature approved the legislation, House Bill 4145, on Feb. 24. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, vetoed the bill on March 3, but lawmakers overrode his veto two days later, on March 5.

“This bill not only expands freedom, but will keep our citizens protected,” Morrisey said in a press release. “Those taking advantage of this important freedom should do so responsibly.”

Legislation in West Virginia takes effect 90 days from passage. The previously announced effective date of June 5 was based on the date the Legislature voted to override Tomblin’s veto, but Morrisey said case law indicates the 90-day clock starts upon “initial passage,” even when the governor first vetoes a bill. He did not cite specific cases.

The original June 5 effective date “was intended to serve as a conservative estimate to ensure gun owners would not be improperly prosecuted,” the release from Morrisey’s office states.

So-acalled “constitutional carry” allows residents 21 and older to carry concealed handguns in West Virginia, regardless of whether they have permits.

However, those who want to carry their weapons across state lines must have a permit, and can still obtain one through their county sheriff’s office.

West Virginia has reciprocity agreements with 33 other states. Maryland is the only border state with which West Virginia does not have a reciprocity agreement.

The new law has been celebrated by gun rights advocates as just recognition of Second Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution, but it’s also come under fire from some in law enforcement who believe the measure puts officers and the public at risk by allowing gun owners to carry concealed without proper training.

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