The West Virginia Citizens Defense League is a group of individuals who have formed a large team of volunteers, whose main objective is to protect and uphold the Second Amendment Constitutional Right of the United States, according to WVCDL President Keith Morgan. The pro-constitutional gun rights group is the largest and most active in West Virginia, frequently working with lawmakers, lobbying and suggesting bills to the West Virginia Judiciary Session.
This year, the WVCDL authored West Virginia Senate Bill 347, which is a bill aimed at protecting and defining the constitutional right to carry a handgun without a permit. The NRA has stated its support of the bill. Several other states in the U.S. already have passed a form of this bill, including Arizona, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming. West Virginia SB 347 cleared the state Senate 32-2 with bipartisan support and is now up for consideration in the House. The bill eliminates the current requirement of a law enforcement-approved permit to carry a concealed firearm. While there has been great support of the bill, several vocal groups and opponents of the bill have concerns about it. According to WVCDL President Keith Morgan, one of the primary opposers of the bill is the WV Sheriff’s Association.
“Their arguments hinge around officer safety. However, this argument does not hold up to researched evidence under scrutiny. The WVSP Academy trains every law enforcement officer in WV that every contact is armed. Therefore, operationally, there will be no change for them, and it may actually help combat complacency, which research has shown is what gets officers killed. Further, under current law, anyone who can legally own a firearm can carry one openly. There is no expansion of or change as to who is allowed to carry. There would simply no longer be tax associated with concealment.”
Morgan further states that he is concerned that opposition is more about money and less about safety concerns.
“Make no mistake, this opposition to this bill is about money. The legislature takes a right, and allows the sheriffs to sell them back to the public. They enjoy 3 million dollars in revenue by forcing us to purchase our constitutional rights back.”
Morgan, along with Vice President Art Thomm and the rest of the WVCDL, says that there is some misinformation circulating and that they want to address untruths so that all residents can know the facts of the bill and have peace of mind regarding it.
“There have been claims this bill will arm domestic abusers and felons. This is completely false. The reality is that this bill does not touch the section of the law which prohibits these people from possessing firearms, let alone carrying them… they will still be prohibited, and subject to serious jail time for carrying. There are also claims that we are destroying the permit process, and that it will remove reciprocity from other states. This is false. The permit policy remains in place, and all reciprocity agreements will remain intact.”
Morgan further states that this bill will behoove law enforcement officers, and he states WVCDL wishes to work in conjunction with them to make law enforcement officers and citizens of West Virginia safer. “We believe that an armed populace is a deterrent to violent crime. We believe this is especially true when criminals do not know which potential victims may be armed. John Lott’s extensive statistical analysis supports this belief, and has yet to be scientifically refuted.”
It’s understandable that firearms are a hot topic for many individuals and groups of people for many reasons. Keith Morgan of the WVCDL states his goal is to protect constitutional rights and work to make West Virginia safer through legislation and education.
Readers, what are your thoughts on the issue of taxation in order to get a concealed carry permit? Do you feel that a taxation on concealed carry is a violation of your constitutional right under the second amendment?