Dozens of gun-related bills get attention at Capitol

CHARLESTON – As lawmakers in Colorado passed tougher gun measures in response to recent mass shootings in Connecticut, Colorado and elsewhere and Congress weighs similar changes, West Virginia legislators could open the door for a variety of new laws that would make it easier to buy and carry firearms.

Among the more than 33 gun-related bills introduced in the Legislature so far this session are bills to allow firearms in schools and on the grounds of the state Capitol, to block enforcement of any new federal gun laws, and to declare all future control measures – whether federal, state or local – invalid.

Art Thomm of the West Virginia Citizens Defense League rallies supporters Saturday in downtown Charles Town.

Art Thomm of the West Virginia Citizens Defense League rallies supporters Saturday in downtown Charles Town.

Gary Howell, a Republican from Mineral County, is sponsoring the bill that would allow licensed gun holders to keep loaded firearms locked in their cars or trucks while the vehicles are parked on capitol grounds.

House Bill 2390 would allow teachers with a concealed pistol/revolver license to carry a gun on school property.

The measure’s chief sponsor is Delegate Scott Cadle, a Republican from Mason County.

Other measures would exempt firearms from federal rules when they are made and then sold within the borders of West Virginia and to go after the medical license of any physician who asks a patient about having guns in order to gather statistics or to justify counseling for the patient.

One of the first bills to pass the House repealed local gun ordinances, including Charleston’s long-standing limit of one handgun purchase per month with the buyer required to wait 72 hours before getting the weapon.

Charleston’s gun restrictions have been in place since 1993. The bill also would strike down ordinances in two other municipalities in Kanawha County as well as one in Martinsburg.

HB 2471, another measure already passed by the House this session, states the government could not confiscate guns or ammunition during a declared state of emergency.

Proponents of the anti-confiscation bill have said they want protection from what they saw as overreach by police seeking to quell looting following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005.

House Bill 2604 would exempt honorably discharged veterans of the nation’s military from having to pay the fees and costs associated with a concealed pistol/revolver permit.

House Bill 2911, introduced by Berkeley County freshman Republican Mike Folk, would make secret information related to the issuance and suspension of gun permits. Now, such information is available to reporters and citizens alike through the Freedom of Information Act.

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