Concealed weapon changes cause concern

An editorial from The Inter-Mountain

ELKINS, W.Va. — Elkins Rotarians and, it seems, Randolph County Sheriff Mark T. Brady have concerns about a new law that allows West Virginians to carry any kind of concealed weapon without a permit.

Frankly, we don’t blame them.

We don’t believe in cherry picking, particularly where Constitutional rights are concerned. But when it comes to the Second Amendment right to bear arms, we’re confused as to what was broken and in need of fixing in West Virginia.

Mountaineers have a long history of exercising their rights under the Second Amendment, whether we carry for hunting and outdoor recreational purposes, or hold conceal carry permits through our local sheriff’s departments.

We’re just not sure if the Legislature’s well-intended effort with HB 4145 actually makes things better.

The right to bear arms is not exclusive of responsibility. Anyone who carries a concealed weapon knows this.

In his discussion with the local Rotary Club on Monday, Brady expressed concern over the lack of a vetting process and background investigation for individuals who carry a concealed weapon, whether it’s a gun or a tomahawk.

“It’s just any person who travels to the state of West Virginia can now possess a concealed weapon,” he said.

Under the current law, individuals must apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The process involves an application, a fee, confirmation of citizenship and a background investigation. All of this is handled by our county sheriffs.

We don’t think these are unreasonable measures, and they certainly have never stopped eligible individuals from exercising their rights.

Even law enforcement officials who are, generally speaking, the most vocal advocates of the Second Amendment are uncertain of the new law. It was vetoed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, which was, in turn, overridden by the Legislature.

By removing the application process, the Legislature has removed the checks and balances put in place to help ensure responsibility in gun ownership.

And we’re just not sure why our representatives would do this in the first place. Was it to appease the National Rifle Association? If so, at what point does an advocacy group become a bully?

We can only hope the decision doesn’t have fatal consequences.

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