The Charleston Gazette:
Hurrah for Gov. Tomblin, who stood up against the powerful gun lobby and sided with public safety. He vetoed a bizarre bill that would have let thousands of people carry hidden pistols without permits, without background checks and without safety training.
Bravo. Tomblin did the right thing for the right reason. The governor deserves gratitude from the vast majority of Mountain State residents who care about community safety.
If the bill had become law, pistol danger would have risen. Families wouldn’t know if someone in a nearby church pew, or grocery aisle, or concert seat, or school sports crowd, was prepared to fire deadly shots at any provocation. Danger from “road rage” in traffic or tavern quarrels would have increased. How long until out-of-state criminals would set up shop here?
“Our law enforcement people are pretty much unanimously opposed to it,” Tomblin said of the pistols-for-everyone bill. He said police were worried about “the safety of their fellow officers.” The governor said he vetoed it “in the interest of public safety for all West Virginians.”
Already, some far-right lawmakers are trying to call the Legislature back into session in an attempt to override Tomblin’s veto. Republicans dubbed the Liberty Caucus are collecting signatures for that purpose.
Article 6, Section 19 of the state constitution says a governor must call a special session if three-fifths of each chamber request it in writing. That would require 60 signatures in the House and 20 in the Senate.
Delegate Rupie Phillips, D-Logan, was quoted as saying that 61 House signatures have been gathered — but he didn’t identify the 61. He vowed that conservatives will pass the pistol bill again at the next opportunity — apparently despite what West Virginians want. Despite the advice of law enforcement. Despite the advice of gun safety instructors. (This is the same delegate who vowed to run a bill next session to require all West Virginians to own a gun.)
West Virginians who care about community safety should rally behind Gov. Tomblin and make it clear that they don’t want to live in a place where anyone up to no good can hide a gun anywhere anytime. You can be sure the well-funded out-of-state lobbyists whose only concern is to sell more guns in other people’s neighborhoods and to amass more political muscle are mobilized and letting elected officials know their desires.