West Virginia Joins States Not Requiring Gun Carriers To Have Permits Or Training




Elliot Fineman
CEO – Founder
National Gun Victims Action Council


Despite the objections of West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and law enforcement officers, the West Virginia House officially tossed out this month permit and training requirements for people over 21 who want to carry a concealed weapon, overriding the governor’s veto.


West Virginia joins Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Vermont and Wyoming in allowing people who may not know how to shoot or handle a gun to nevertheless carry one in public. Why? Because training and permit requirements infringe on the Second Amendment say lawmakers and the NRA who helped them. Some states like Kansas even made any law requiring permits and training for concealed carriers illegal. Last summer, NGVAC advised corporations with Kansas operations that allowing potentially completely untrained carriers onto their property represents a great financial risk to them.




Research has revealed that unless carriers are extensively trained initially and are retrained and recertified for proficiency—accuracy and judgment—several times a year like law enforcement officers, they are unable to defend themselves.


Last spring, NGVAC worked with Mount Saint Mary’s University researchers and the Prince George’s County Police Department, both in Maryland, to determine whether the quality and frequency of training determines the realistic use of firearms by citizens for self-defense.


The research found that in three simulated crime scenarios—a carjacking, an armed holdup in a convenience store and a potential robbery—civilians, including trained ones, were unable to approach the accuracy and judgment of trained police officers, sometimes shooting criminals who did not have guns or injuring innocent bystanders, sometimes freezing to non-response—but never defending themselves.


In vetoing the West Virginia law, Gov. Tomblin noted law enforcement officers will be at greater risk with no way of knowing whether someone is armed, the training they have received or even their criminal history. (The nixed permitting process had included a background check.) The same risks apply to the public.


“I don’t know how we as a society can say it’s OK for someone to carry a concealed weapon … with absolutely no training and expect if something bad happens, they’re going to be the hero to rush in to protect their family or strangers,” said Raleigh County Sheriff Steve Tanner of Beckley, West Virginia. Requiring permits, background checks and training to carry a concealed weapon “works very, very well,” said Tanner noting that no one who has a “right to have these weapons” has been denied in the current permit system.




Even if your state has not allowed people without training or a permit to carry guns, you are at increased risk. That is because more and more states have “reciprocity” agreements in which they honor the laws of others states. That means someone who does not know who to handle or shoot a gun can brazenly walk down the street in states other than his own.


While some gun safety groups say US laws are getting better, laws like West Virginia’s show it is just the opposite. The gun violence epidemic is worsening and everyone is at risk at school, the workplace, the mall, the movies and on us highways. At least 17 pro-gun states (read 34 senators) will never allow Congress to pass new gun laws even as the epidemic increases before our very eyes.


That is why we call on you to sign our petition calling on President Obama to declare a National State of Emergency for the gun violence epidemic—just as he has done during his term over the Swine Flu, the California wild fires and, with initial steps, the Zika virus.



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