Delegates want to bear arms without permits
By Mannix Porterfield
CHARLESTON — Controversy often inflames passions, and mindful of this lawless age and a propensity of some in society to go over the edge, a few lawmakers want the right to arm themselves without a weapons permit.
One sponsor of such a House bill, in fact, Delegate Mark Hunt, D-Kanawha, relayed a personal threat directed at him and his family, penned by the hand of a convict.
A self-described “monster,” the man behind bars warned of what he intended to do to Hunt and his children.
Hunt decided to leave nothing to chance and get a firearm, but was told he had to wait during a two-month concealed weapon application process.
Despite the written threat, the man was released, but authorities picked him up a day later.
Hunt is a co-sponsor of HB3248, aimed at adding members of the Legislature to a list of officials and others who are allowed to skip the waiting period and carry a firearm.
Delegate David Walker, D-Clay, the lead sponsor, says he has never been threatened, but if he were, wouldn’t hesitate to arm himself.
“I ride around with my legislative license plate on my vehicles,” he said Friday.
“I walk into businesses with my name tag on. I wear it all day. I don’t think about it.”
Walker pointed out lawmakers often deal with controversial matters that can set certain people off and provoke them to violent episodes.
“I don’t have a concealed weapon, and no desire to carry one,” he said. “But I do believe we have the right to bear arms. I’m a firm believer in that. If the situation would arise and somebody would threaten me, I would feel better if I didn’t have to wait nine or 10 weeks to get a permit
. I could just pick up my pistol, put it in my car and drive down the road without the fear of being prosecuted if I was caught.”
Besides Walker and Hunt, the bill is being sponsored by Delegates Tom Louisos, D-Fayette; Margaret Smith, D-Lewis; Daniel Hall, D-Wyoming; Stan Shaver, D-Preston; and Doug Skaff Jr., D-Kanawha.
In statute now, exceptions are provided to anyone toting a firearm on his own premises, gun club owners traveling to and from target shooting exercises, law enforcement, Division of Corrections employees, members of the military, circuit judges, federal law enforcement personnel and out-of-staters who hold a valid concealed weapon in their home jurisdictions.