The legislature of West Virginia voted to override Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto of a bill that would allow adults to carry concealed handguns without a permit.
Governor says the law puts the lives of police officers and residents in danger.
The state’s House of Delegates voted 64-33 to override Tomblin on Friday without discussion on the matter, and the Senate completed the override on Saturday morning with a vote of 23-11. The vote to bypass the veto was bipartisan in both chambers.
HB 4145 will largely eliminate West Virginia’s perming and training requirements for carrying a concealed weapon. However, the bill requires residents between ages 18 and 20 still undergo training and permit procedures.
Tomblin vetoed the bill on Thursday at a ceremony surrounded by dozens of police officers, telling legislators that the law enforcement community was concerned about it.
“When you’re a police officer and you walk into a dangerous situation, you almost have to expect that everyone’s carrying a gun,” Tomblin said.
His plea fell on deaf ears, however, with lawmakers arguing that the bill safeguards the rights of West Virginians.
“While we completely respect the law enforcement community, we also will always come down on the side of the Constitution and ensuring that our rights are protected,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson) said Friday. “They want the permit process and the training associated with that, which I completely respect and admire their position, but the constitutional authority to carry a weapon is inherent in our Second Amendment.”
Tomblin criticized the override vote with a prepared statement, saying he found it “disheartening” that legislators chose put the safety of police officers “and the safety of West Virginians” at risk.
Among the individuals excluded from the new rule are those with substance-abuse problems, multiple alcohol-related driving infractions or otherwise serious criminal records.
The veto override has been lauded by gun rights supporters nationwide.
“Self-defense is a fundamental right that must be respected,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA-ILA. “Law-abiding West Virginians are now free to choose the method of self-defense that best suits their needs. The NRA and our five million members are pleased that the legislature voted in support of West Virginians’ Second Amendment freedoms.”