Members of the West Virginia Senate voted 24 to 9 Monday to approve a bill allowing West Virginians over the age of 21 to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.
The bill has already been approved by the House of Delegates, but Senators included changes that will now need to be reconsidered by the lower chamber before it heads to Governor Tomblin for a signature.
As approved by the Senate, the bill gets rid of the current permitting and safety training requirements to carry a concealed weapon but keeps those programs in place for citizens who want to carry their weapons in states that have reciprocity with West Virginia.
The bill also establishes a provisional license for 18 to 21-year-olds to carry concealed. Those provisional licenses include safety training requirements.
House Bill 4145 was amended in the Senate to remove a $100 tax credit for those who go through the permitting process even though it would not be required by code. Senate Judiciary Chair Charles Trump explained during a Saturday floor session such a credit would leave a millions of dollars hole in the state budget.
The Senate's version also creates three new felonies related to carrying concealed when they are prohibited by law or use a weapon while committing a crime.
In a speech on the chamber floor, Democratic Sen. Corey Palumbo explained his no vote shows he stands with law enforcement officers and a majority of his constituents who opposed the relaxed concealed carry rules. Republican Sen. Kent Leonhardt argued that the bill will increase the safety of the state's citizens.
House Bill 4145 could be taken up by the House of Delegates as soon as Tuesday.