Concealed Carry

West Virginia Becomes 8th State to Let People Carry Concealed Guns Without a Permit

It already allowed open carry without a permit, as do 25 other states.

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Late last week West Virginia's legislature overrode Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's veto of a bill that allows lawful gun owners 21 or older to carry concealed weapons without a permit. West Virginia is now one of eight states with that policy (although one of them, Wyoming, requires permits for visitors from other states). Thirty-three other states have "shall issue" laws that allow anyone who meets a short list of objective criteria (often including completion of firearms training) to obtain a concealed-carry permit. Just nine states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island) have "may issue" laws that give state or local law enforcement agencies discretion to grant or deny permits.

In vetoing the West Virginia bill, Tomblin cited opposition from police officers. The Charleston Gazette Mail reports that the governor "held a rare veto-signing ceremony Thursday, surrounded by dozens of police officers, to try to convince legislators to let the veto stand." The state House of Representatives decided to override the veto on Friday by a vote of 64 to 33; the state Senate followed suit on Saturday by a vote of 23 to 11. In West Virginia a simple majority is enough to override a veto.

"While we completely respect the law enforcement community, we also will always come down on the side of the Constitution and ensuring that our rights are protected," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson). "They want the permit process and the training associated with that, which I completely respect and admire their position, but the constitutional authority to carry a weapon is inherent in our Second Amendment."

Carmichael's comments suggest he thinks requiring a permit for concealed carry is inconsistent with the Second Amendment. The Supreme Court has never directly addressed that issue. But in District of Columbia v. Heller, the 2008 decision that rejected a local handgun ban as inconsistent with the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, the Court noted that "the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues." That suggests the constitutional right to bear arms is the right to carry them openly, which West Virginia already allowed without a permit.

Consistent with that interpretation, 26 states let people carry guns openly without a permit, more than three times the number that allow concealed carry without a permit. In addition to the latter eight states (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming), the open-carry states include 17 with "shall issue" concealed-carry laws and one (Delaware) with a "may issue" law.

In 2012 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit overturned an Illinois law that prohibited most people (aside from police officers, security guards, and a few other exceptions) from carrying ready-to-use guns. "The constitutional right of armed self-defense is broader than the right to have a gun in one's home," the court said. "The right to 'bear' as distinct from the right to 'keep' arms is unlikely to refer to the home. To speak of 'bearing' arms within one's home would at all times have been an awkward usage. A right to bear arms thus implies a right to carry a loaded gun outside the home." The court noted that the need for armed self-defense, the right recognized in Heller, is at least as strong outside the home as within it, so banning guns in public "creates an arbitrary difference."

The 7th Circuit did not question the constitutionality of requiring people to obtain permits before carrying guns in public. It said a state may "limit the right to carry a gun to responsible persons," which implies a screening process that goes beyond the legal requirements for owning a gun, and added that "some states sensibly require that an applicant for a handgun permit establish his competence in handling firearms." Furthermore, the court noted that "many states used to ban carrying concealed guns outside the home" and said "a state may be able to require 'open carry'—that is, require persons who carry a gun in public to carry it in plain view rather than concealed."

Then again, a state might decide to require that guns in public be hidden away, lest they cause alarm. That is the rule in the eight states where open carry is generally prohibited, even by people with concealed carry permits. In fact, Florida, which started the recent movement toward "shall issue" carry permit laws in 1987, prohibits open carry, a policy that has been challenged on Second Amendment grounds. The one thing a state clearly may not do, if the right to bear arms means anything, is ban both concealed and open carry.

Addendum: As a few readers have pointed out, Rhode Island authorizes both the attorney general and local authorities to issue concealed carry permits. The provision dealing with the attorney general says he "may issue" a permit, while the provision dealing with local authorities says they "shall" issue a permit to anyone 21 or older "if it appears that the applicant has good reason to fear an injury to his or her person or property or has any other proper reason for carrying a pistol or revolver, and that he or she is a suitable person to be so licensed." According to USA Carry, "many Local Authorities won't issue pistol permits," instead "referring you to apply through the Attorney General." Hence whether Rhode Island counts as a "may issue" state or a "shall issue" state "is a gray area." I would add that the language concerning the licensing authority of local officials seems to allow significant (but not unlimited) discretion concerning what counts as a "proper reason" to carry a gun and what makes an applicant "suitable."

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41 responses to “West Virginia Becomes 8th State to Let People Carry Concealed Guns Without a Permit

  1. Title is wrong. It’s *West* Virginia.

  2. “While we completely respect the law enforcement community, we also will always come down on the side of the Constitution and ensuring that our rights are protected

    A politician said this? I don’t believe it.

    1. My thoughts as well

    2. I hope his constituents appreciate that statement.

    3. In WV? Hell, yes. Several years back one of WV’s US Senators said something about gun control and almost got run out of office. WV folks take gun rights very seriously. In many ways, WV would have been a better place to found libertopia, NE WV being within commuting distance of DC.

      1. Indeed, there is an extremely focused, active, grassroots movement there that authored and lobbied for this very bill.

        http://wvcdl.org/

  3. Greetings from SE china where concealed and open carryvarecstikk fround upon. Doing nmmy best. Aguki cybirg frim a big tigh chinese bud and anbieb

    1. Makes sense. I agree completely.

      1. Just when I was about to have an epiphiny…

  4. “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!”

    —-Barry Goldwater

    Sometimes, when people are immune to reason, persuasion, guilt, and intimidation, it’s a bad thing.

    Other times, not so much.

    There is no substitute for a cultural preference for freedom. I just wish this extremism in defense of gun rights spilled over into more areas.

  5. The one thing a state clearly may not do, if the right to bear arms means anything, is ban both concealed and open carry.

    Wrong. New Jersey can and does prohibit both.

    1. Which the courts allow to stand, so the right to bear arms really is meaningless in certain states.

      1. Has it been challenged at the appellate level since McDonald?

        1. Yes. The case that I believe WTF is referring to is Drake v. Filko, which cites McDonald in the ruling:

          In 2010, the Court
          recognized that the Second Amendment right articulated in
          Heller applied equally to the states through the Fourteenth
          Amendment. See McDonald v. City of Chicago, ? U.S. ?,
          130 S. Ct. 3020, 3026 (2010). Taken together, these cases
          made clear that “Second Amendment guarantees are at their
          zenith within the home.”
          5 Rather than discussing whether or not the individual right to
          bear arms for the purpose of self-defense articulated in
          District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008) “extends
          beyond the home,” it may be more accurate to discuss
          whether, in the public sphere, a right similar or parallel to the
          right articulated in Heller “exists.” Firearms have always been
          more heavily regulated in the public sphere so, undoubtedly,
          if the right articulated in Heller does “extend beyond the
          home,” it most certainly operates in a different manner.

          1. Ah, thanks. Even more disappointing that SCOTUS did not take this up now that Scalia is dead.

            1. Depending on who the next justices are that get appointed to SCOTUS, we could see the second amendment gains of the last couple of decades evaporate overnight.

          2. Yes, I was referring to Drake.

    2. Only in practice! It’s theoretically possible to get a permit, right?

      1. Not really. You must show a specific “need”, such as a specific documented threat made against your life, and then you “may” be able to actually get a permit after a few months. But absent any such “need” you are completely banned from carrying, and arenot eligible for a permit. So anyone who is not subject to such a specific, documented threat against them can not even theoretically get a permit.

        1. a specific documented threat made against your life

          Does woodchipper talk on H&R count?

          1. According to the Feds, it’s the only place it does.

  6. The one thing a state clearly may not do, if the right to bear arms means anything, is ban both concealed and open carry.

    Since any license is a prohibition wrapped in a bureaucracy, I would say states clearly may neither prohibit, nor require a license, to carry concealed or openly.

    Requiring a license is a textbook “infringement” on a right.

    1. “Reasonable, common-sense” restrictions are not “infringements” because FYTW.

      1. We shall decide the goals, and find logical justifications for them afterward!

        1. Hell, the 3rd Circuit decided that New Jersey’s prohibition against bearing arms did not constitute an infringement of the right to bear arms. And despit other circuits ruling just the opposite on this matter, the SCOTUS decided to let the ruling stand.

          1. Clearly, among the many reasons to not live in New Jersey, they are attempting to add to the count. I’d say they’ve succeeded. I’ve never even passed through, and now have even less desire to do so. Not because of any strong need to carry a weapon, just because I don’t like nanny state assholes who think they know what’s best for everyone. New Jersey is inherently a safer place for criminals to operate, thanks to the “helpful” legislators. Well, you New Jeresyites voted them in, so just shut up and enjoy!? Right?

          2. And despit other circuits ruling just the opposite on this matter, the SCOTUS decided to let the ruling stand.

            SCOTUS isn’t going to take a case that is an obvious and blatant over-reach by the State. They might have to either give the game away, or rule against the State on this one.

            They will take cases that are less obvious, so that they can validate the encroachment on our rights at a more seemly pace.

    2. “It’s not much of a right if it is totally limited and constrained” — HRC at the #DemTownHall

      But of course she was talking about abortion.

      1. The hypocrisy would be astounding, if it wasn’t simply explained by the fact that they want to have abortions and they don’t want other people to have guns.

      2. “It’s not much of a right if it is totally limited and constrained”

        Hold that thought, Hillary! Hold it!

        Now, look at the Bill of Rights.

        Boom.

      3. And of course she wasn’t challenged on that point, which is why I think naming these events “town hall” is bullshit.

    3. Since any license is a prohibition wrapped in a bureaucracy, I would say states clearly may neither prohibit, nor require a license, to carry concealed or openly.

      Requiring a license is a textbook “infringement” on a right.

      And, using the logic I’ve learned from other licensing schemes, I’ve come to the incontrovertible conclusion that it’s racist as well.

  7. Have the proggies rolled out their “wild west” metaphor yet? I’m sure they will if they haven’t already, in spite of the fact that their predictions of bloodbaths never match the reality of past experience (e.g. the other states already allowing CC without a permit).

    1. Someone has, I’m sure. Nobody gives a fuck.

  8. At one time, I spent considerable time in West Virginia. I never noticed, amongst people I ran into there, any particular leanings toward violence.

  9. Oh no, that’s horrible. If there is no license requirement then the gov’t can’t get the money from registration and tax fees. If they can’t get money from fees then how will they build the roads, how will our chillens eat when they are hungry? Iiiiit’s alllll about the chillens.

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