CHARLES TOWN – Members of the West Virginia Citizens Defense League, together with Republican Delegates Paul Espinosa and Mike Folk, gathered in front of City Hall Saturday for a rally aimed at exerting pressure on Sen. Herb Snyder to take up a bill that would remove the authority of municipalities and counties to regulate carrying firearms.
HB 2760 effectively repeals municipal legislation in Martinsburg and Charleston that makes it illegal to carry firearms in certain municipal buildings.
While the general authority of municipalities to pass new regulations was revoked years ago, a grandfathering clause has allowed the regulations in Martinsburg and Charleston to remain on the books. HB 2760 would revoke that clause.
WVCDL Vice President Art Thomm said the bill is necessary to remove the possibility that a visitor who is unaware of the local gun regulations might carry a firearm into a prohibited location without realizing he or she is breaking the law.
The bill passed through the House of Delegates by an overwhelming 94-4 margin, and was passed on to the Senate on March 11.
Snyder has said repeatedly that he is not stalling on the bill so that it will die in the Government Organizations Committee, which he chairs. He has indicated, rather, that Senate Committees are currently completing their review of bills that originated in the Senate.
Thomm said he believes Snyder plans to let the bill die in committee.
Snyder said his committee will take up HB 2760 after “crossover day” on April 3, the day after which Senate committees can only take up House bills, and visa-versa.
The WVCDL is currently pushing five bills related to gun regulations.
One would recognize the concealed carry permits of out-of-state visitors, provided the states that issued their permits also recognize West Virginia’s concealed carry permits. That bill has yet to pass out of the Senate Judiciary Committee for a full vote in the Senate.
Another, which would prohibit regulations that add restrictions on carrying firearms or ammunition during a state of emergency, passed out of the House in a 97-0 vote and on to the Senate. It is currently in the Government Organizations committee.
Three other bills have yet to pass out of committee.