Members of the House of Delegates once again held a marathon floor session debating a bill supporters say protects the constitutional rights of their constituents. The bill would allow West Virginians of a certain age to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. Many Democrats expressed safety concerns over the measure, and attempted to amend the bill on its third reading Monday.
House Bill 4145 was up for passage Monday but with twelve pending amendments.
But first, what does this bill do? It allows West Virginians between 18 and 21 to be eligible for a concealed carry permit. After 21, that person would not need a permit to carry a concealed handgun or other deadly weapon.
One of the twelve amendments suggested came from House Judiciary Chairman, John Shott of Mercer County. His amendment would give a tax credit of up to $100 to anyone in the state who still goes through the permitting process. That amendment was approved.
The remaining eleven amendments were debated for roughly two hours. One would have kept training requirements for people who want to carry a concealed weapon, another suggested only residents of West Virginia be able to forego having a permit, and another suggested those who carry a handgun or deadly weapon pay insurance for those weapons.
All of the amendments failed, except for one that would exempt probation officers from the list of those who could carry guns onto school grounds.
After amendments, members of both sides debated the bill.
Delegate Saira Blair is a Republican from Berkeley County. She's the youngest member in the House of Delegates at just nineteen years-old, and she's also the lead sponsor of the bill.
“I’m the only person standing in this chamber in the 18 to 21 year old age period. I can currently not get a permit to carry, and I’ll tell you right now, I am scared. I’ve received multiple death threats in the past year. I am scared. I’m not going to stop what I do on a daily basis; I’m not going to stop going to the mall, I’m not going to stop going to the movies, and I’m not going to stop going to church because of it, but I would feel safer as a law abiding citizen if I knew that I was able to protect myself.” - Delegate Saira Blair, R-Berkeley County
House Bill 4145 passed 68 to 31 and now goes to the Senate for its consideration.