Optional photo ID on gun permits floated in W.Va.

CHARLESTON (AP) — West Virginia law requires only the owner’s name and address on a concealed weapon permit. Now some sheriffs are considering a photo ID as an optional addition.

While not a requirement, the photo would be an easy way to verify information and ensure safety, Putnam County Sheriff Steve Deweese told The Charleston Gazette. He believes it eventually will become a state law.

“It’s not required, but I look for it to be soon,” he said. The photo equipment will be ready to use in Putnam County in the coming days, he said.

A requirement to have Social Security numbers and identifying features included on the permits was removed several years ago in West Virginia.

Kanawha County Sheriff Johnny Rutherford said more people are applying for a weapons permit. The photo ID, he said, would be helpful to law enforcement.

“It makes sense. You have your picture on your driver’s license — it should be on something as important as your pistol permit,” Rutherford said.

He is purchasing the technology for Kanawha County. Gun owners would pay a fee to have their photo on the permit. He plans to also allow other identifying characteristics such as height, weight and hair color to be placed on permits.

Deweese consulted the Cabell County Sheriff’s Department, which has been using the extra form of identification for years.

“We bought our own equipment in September,” Cabell County Chief Deputy Doug Ferguson said. “Before, we had been doing it with a local photography studio.”

Deweese said the machine, which cost about $5,000, was purchased with money from the concealed weapons permit fund.

Jacqueline Otto, spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, said the organization would monitor any future legislation regarding photo IDS.

“We support uniformity in firearm laws statewide — things easy for people to understand, easy for them to comply with,” Otto said. “Secondly, we watch for people to impose unnecessary burdens. It shouldn’t be too cumbersome on law-abiding citizens.”

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