Charleston, West Virginia – Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and the West Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America today released a new bipartisan poll, available here, that finds 83 percent of likely voters in West Virginia – including 81 percent of gun owners – favor requiring permits to carry a concealed handgun in public in West Virginia. The poll also revealed that West Virginians are 50 percent less likely to vote for a candidate who supported a repeal of permitting requirements like SB 347. The bi-partisan poll by Momentum Analysis (D) and Chesapeake Bay Consulting (R) conducted 500 phone interviews with likely 2016 West Virginia voters from March 2-4, 2015.
SB 347, which is being heard during a public hearing today and awaits a vote in the House Judiciary Committee, would lower the bar for who can carry a hidden, loaded gun in West Virginia. Currently, several categories of people are prohibited from carrying in public under the state’s concealed carry permitting system, including:
- Anyone convicted of misdemeanor crimes of violence,
- Anyone with multiple convictions for driving under the influence, and
- Anyone 18-20 years old.
SB 347 would dismantle the current permitting system by allowing some of these individuals to carry a concealed handgun without any training or permitting. If SB 347 becomes law, West Virginia would join only four other states to abandon core public safety standards and allow people to carry hidden, loaded guns in public with no permit. SB 347 is also strongly opposed by law enforcement from across the state.
“West Virginia has a common-sense permit system to ensure that those who carry loaded, concealed handguns in public are law abiding gun owners,” said Kenova Mayor and Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition Member Ric Griffith. “It’s a law enforcement tool that almost every state in America uses. Allowing untrained people to carry hidden handguns in public places is irresponsible and reckless. As a mayor, my first responsibility is the safety of my constituents, and SB 347 will endanger the lives of West Virginia families.”
“As a mom, lawyer, and West Virginian, I know that SB 347 is dangerous for West Virginia and I urge our Delegates to vote NO on this legislation,” said Dee Price Childress, volunteer with the West Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “The current license requirements in West Virginia include things like undergoing basic training on how to handle and fire a gun, passing a criminal background check, and other reasonable safeguards. If a person wants to carry a loaded, concealed handgun in public they should be required to demonstrate they have a clean criminal record and have been trained to carry a gun safely.”