Advocates, Critics Talk W.Va. Gun Law


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FRANKLIN, W.Va. (WHSV) -- A new law in West Virginia makes it easier for people with new concealed carry permits to buy guns. Sheriffs will now have to make sure concealed carry applicants have passed strict background check requirements. Also as part of the law, people with a permit don't have to go through a federal background check.

"If you make that argument than you are assuming that the concealed weapons carrier is going to be a criminal, which is absolutely not the case," said Isaac Sponaugle, a Democratic member of the West Virginia's House of Delegates. He is a co-sponsor of the bill that just became a law.

He said if you commit a crime the sheriff's office and West Virginia State Police take your gun rights away.

With a more extensive background check to get a concealed carry permit to carry a hand gun, advocates say that the law is enough; however, others say another background check wouldn't hurt.

"There is issues with that streamlining the gun law, but there's a lot of things that you have to go through to get the permit," said John Simmons, a hunter, as he ate his lunch in downtown Franklin.

He said there could be someone who slips through.

"Hardly anybody could slip through the cracks, it shouldn't be nobody," said Simmons.

Gun shops in Franklin wouldn't allow our cameras inside. In Harrisonburg, Dubby Carr, who owns a hunting and fishing shop, said the problem doesn't start with following the law, "Most criminals don't buy guns from stores they steal guns from stores, homes."

"We in West Virginia try to streamline government so we don't have overlapping layers of bureaucracy. So if you're going a substantial background check once, you shouldn't have to go through it six, 12 times every time you go to purchase a firearm," said Sponaugle.

He is hopeful stricter concealed carry rules will help.

Old permits are not grandfathered in and within the law people can't own a firearm if they're a convicted felon. The new law means people who buy guns with a permit can get the gun immediately, instead of waiting three to five days for a federal background check.

West Virginia is the 23rd state to have a handgun law like this passed.


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