By ELAINA SAUBER
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin released a statement on Tuesday that brought his concerns about firearm policy back to the surface in light of last week’s shooting death of 15-year-old James Means on Charleston’s East End — less than a mile from the governor’s mansion.
Tomblin said he believes West Virginia must protect the Second Amendment rights of its constituents, “but at the same time, I believe we must balance protecting those rights with ensuring public and law enforcement safety.”
“I have abiding concerns about the consequences of these significant changes to state law, especially the concerns that have been shared with me by law enforcement officers across the state,” Tomblin said in the statement.
“The loss of this young man certainly brings those concerns into sharp focus once again.”
During the 2016 Legislative Session, Tomblin vetoed a bill that allowed people to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.
Both chambers of the Legislature overrode his veto. The law, which went into effect on May 24, also eliminated the gun safety course requirement for carrying a concealed firearm.
On the evening of Nov. 21, William Ronald Pulliam allegedly shot James Means after the two had an argument near the Dollar General on Washington Street East.
According to the criminal complaint, Pulliam shot the teen twice with a revolver after Means walked across the street to approach Pulliam after he left Dollar General.
The shooting took place near the corner of Washington Street East and Nancy Street.
Pulliam was prohibited from owning a firearm due to a previous domestic violence conviction in 2013, when he assaulted his wife and daughter.
After he confessed to police officers about shooting Means, Pulliam said “the way I look at it, that’s another piece of trash off the street,” according to the criminal complaint.
It’s still unclear whether Pulliam had the revolver before his domestic violence conviction and failed to get rid of it, or if he obtained it illegally after his conviction.
Pulliam has asserted that he wasn’t guilty of the first-degree murder charge, said his attorney, deputy Kanawha County public defender Richard Holicker.
The West Virginia Council of Churches also released a statement last week following the incident.
“We commend the swiftness of the Charleston Police Department regarding this crime and their commitment to transparency and dialogue,” the statement says.
The Council also called on state and federal officials to address all forms of racial disparity.
“We are aware that this shooting takes place in a greater context, recognizing the deaths of African-American women and men across the nation.”
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