The WVCDL: A Grassroots Movement Protecting The Right To ‘Constitutional Carry’ In West Virginia

Amy Schaeffer

Perhaps U.S. Anthropologist Margaret Mead said it best when she conveyed her thoughts on the time and commitment of those who believed in the power of activism.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Indeed, the tireless efforts of West Virginian Citizen Defense League President Keith Morgan, Vice President Art Thomm, and hundreds of committed members believe in those words with their heart and soul, and they fight relentlessly to protect a right that they hold dear. Art Thomm explains the meaning of the bill SB 347, also known to WVCDL as “WV 3-22 Carry,” and why it is deemed “Constitutional Carry.”

“The WVCDL is pleased to announce that SB347 has been introduced and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. SB 347 is the WVCDL’s ‘WV 3-22 Carry’, generically referred to as ‘Permitless’ or ‘Constitutional’ carry. SB347 captures both the spirit and letter of the West Virginia Constitution’s right to bear arms clause, Article III, Section 22 which reads: ‘A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, and for lawful hunting and recreational use.’ One major issue our bill addresses is the protection of the concealed carry licensing process as an option for any WV resident that would like to continue to take advantage of WV’s reciprocity agreements. We would like to thank Senator Sypolt as lead sponsor along with Senators Beach, Blair, Gaunch, D. Hall, Karnes, Leonhardt, Maynard, Williams and Ferns for co-sponsoring.”

The West Virginia Citizens Defense League(WVCDL) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, all-volunteer, grassroots organization of concerned West Virginians who support “the individual right to keep and bear arms for defense of self, family, home and state, and for lawful hunting and recreational use, as protected by the state constitution and the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

As the WVCDL gears up for Lobby Day on February 16 in the state capitol of West Virginia in Charleston, they can rest assured that they have gained not only local backing but national backing, including the NRA. The NRA has reviewed and actively supports WVCDL’s SB 347. The fact that WVCDL and the NRA are working together sends an incredibly powerful message to the legislature. The NRA’s membership volume, combined with the WVCDL’s fearsome activism, represents a force for gun rights in our state that simply cannot be ignored.

The NRA has spoken on behalf of their support of SB347. An official statement from NRA’s spokesperson regarding that support was solid and left no doubt as to their backing of the bill.

“Senate Bill 347, introduced by state Senator Dave Sypolt (R-14), would recognize your right to legally carry a concealed firearm without the burdensome requirement of having to obtain a costly and time restrictive Concealed Handgun License (CHL). SB 347 is a necessary update to concealed carry statutes in West Virginia, allowing law-abiding gun owners the ability to protect themselves and their loved ones. In West Virginia, it is already legal to carry a firearm openly, as long as the individual is not prohibited by law from possessing a firearm. However, under current law, if a firearm becomes covered by a coat or if a woman prefers to carry a firearm for self-protection in her purse, one would need to possess a concealed pistol permit.This permitless carry legislation gives you the freedom to choose the best method of carrying for each individual, based on your attire, gender and/or physical attributes. Also critically important, this legislation would keep in place the current permitting system so that people who obtain a permit could still enjoy the reciprocity agreements that West Virginia has with other states across the country. Your NRA-ILA will keep you informed as these bill continue to progress through the legislative process.”

Art Thomm is so passionate in his cause that he has personally spoken on behalf of citizens in the United States who are not from West Virginia when he feels their rights are in jeopardy. As reported by the Inquisitr in December 2014, Thomm spoke out about the plan of the Sheriff in Beloit, Wisconsin, to offer to search peoples’ homes for firearms. The WVCDL was so public in their outrage that the Beloit sheriff quickly redacted his offer, as gun-rights activists took to Facebook and Twitter to express their outrage.

Thomm is a man on a mission and a force to be reckoned with. The outcome of SB347 in WV remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: the WVCDL is not easily discouraged and will continue to lobby to protect rights of gun-owners in WV and elsewhere.

[photo via facebook]