Opinion

Region exercising Second Amendment rights

An editorial from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — A new study by the West Virginia Press Association has found that the number of concealed carry permits in the Mountain State is soaring. And the same can be said for Mercer, McDowell and Monroe counties where residents are exercising their Second Amendment right in record numbers.

In Mercer County, state police received 506 permit requests in 2009 allowing residents to carry concealed handguns in most public places. But that number increased to 1,653 by 2013, giving Mercer County a total of 5,312 concealed carry permits to date, according to the study. In neighboring McDowell County, state police received 212 permit applications in 2009, but the number grew to 548 by 2013. McDowell County now has a total of 1,767 conceal carry permits.

Monroe County also saw a surge in concealed carry permits jumping from 116 applications in 2009 to 424 in 2013.

The increase in concealed carry permits seen by our local counties is reflective of a statewide trend. In 2009, county sheriffs’ departments across the state issued 11,160 permits. But by the year 2013 that number had jumped to 44,981 concealed carry permits — a significant increase in a short span of five years.

Mercer County Sheriff Don Meadows says the number of concealed carry permit requests in the region has steadily increased each year. “By this time, everybody in the county should have one,” Meadows told the Daily Telegraph last week. He said roughly equal numbers of men and women are getting concealed carry permits, and adds that part of the application fee helps the department to purchase new equipment.

People who seek concealed carry permits cannot simply purchase a firearm and start using it. They need classes showing them how to use guns legally and safely. Cpl. J.C. Long of the West Virginia State Police Princeton detachment, occasionally teaches new applicants about their responsibilities.

Long said Castle Doctrine in West Virginia allows a person to protect his or herself and other people, but not property. He also emphasizes that every shooting, whether it is self-defense or not, will result in a criminal investigation that could put a case before a grand jury.

The near epidemic level of drug-related crimes in our region — including property thefts and breaking and enterings that are ultimately drug related — could be pushing many people toward obtaining concealed carry permits. Also, many individuals are employed in professions that require work or travel in neighborhoods with high crime rates. We believe the surprising numbers found in the West Virginia Press Association study can be viewed as a sad commentary of the times we live in…

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