Opinion

WV Capitol restrictions imply lawmakers gun shy

An editorial from The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — So, who’s afraid of a little handgun?

Or a big, long gun? Or semi-automatic guns?

Bet you would never guess it’s the same lawmakers who made West Virginia’s gun laws perhaps the least restrictive in the nation, would you?

But judging by the metal detectors at the state Capitol, now, restricting the public entrances into it, not to mention, barring the public from carrying weapons anywhere in the complex, it looks like some legislators are gun shy.

Starting Jan. 8, the public will only be admitted into the Capitol building, in Charleston, through one door, where armed guards will usher them through a metal detector and X-ray their possessions.

Legislators, staff and some media will still have access to the Capitol’s other 12 entrances, including 11 of them that were previously public.

On Jan. 10, another public entrance will also be open for the 60-day regular session, which convenes Jan. 14.

We certainly don’t oppose safety measures in public buildings. Prohibiting firearms in them amounts to little more than common sense from where we stand.

Yet, many of these legislators are the same ones who voted in 2014 to allow firearms into most swimming pools, tennis courts and recreation centers that offer after-school activities. And how could we forget the glut of legislation in the 2015 session that advanced carrying firearms everywhere but into nurseries.

For instance, one Senate bill would have allowed any state resident —21 or older —to carry a concealed weapon, “including on or within municipally owned or controlled buildings, recreation centers or properties,”without a concealed carry permit.

Then there was a House bill which allows the carrying of concealed weapons on the grounds of higher education institutions.

Or another House bill, which declared, “any federal law which attempts to ban semiautomatic firearms or to limit the size of a magazine of a firearm or other limitation on firearms in this state is unenforceable in West Virginia.”

The governor also vetoed a bill that would have no longer required a permit to carry a concealed weapon, altogether.

Perhaps we’re wrong. Maybe legislators don’t fear anyone shouldering an AR-15 into the Capitol. Or even a slight Beretta 92 tucked away in their purse.

After all, they passed a law to allow people to keep firearms in the their car at the state Capitol Complex, if they have a concealed-carry permit.

Maybe these restrictions to the Capitol are to protect visiting schoolchildren, as the governor asserted in his announcement.

But we get the impression the Legislature wants to start playing it safe.

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