WVCDL members and supporters, you have made history. I am unaware of any time in the history of our state where five pro-gun bills have been sent to the governor in one session. Read this entire message. It will be long, but it will be worth it.
With the gun control efforts we’re facing at the national level, and in the face of a senate that fought us tooth an nail, West Virginians are starting to realize that Colorado can happen here. And West Virginia is standing up, speaking out, and fighting to prevent it.
WVCDL members Amber Perry and Joanna Kirkpatrick spent most of last night in the Senate Gallery observing the votes and waiting on the Preemption / Home Rule bill to come to the floor. Both experienced an interesting phenomenon. They were met with constant stares and glares from the Senate floor. Some were looks of curiosity. Some were looks of fear. And some were stares of outright malice. And while this was happening, the same thing was happening to myself, BoD member Jereomy Schulz, and members Beth Thaxton and Donna Holstein from the floor of the House.
Why am I including this? I am including it because the reason they were staring at us is relevant. They know our t-shirts and our logo. And they know our shirts and our logo because of you. They have seen us on the news. They have seen us in the streets. And they have seen us in their halls and offices. And they know we are awake, aware, and we are watching. There is indisputable proof that you, our members and supporters, have, are, and will make a profound difference in the defense of our liberty.
With states like Colorado, New York, and Maryland handing over their liberty for a false promise of safety, West Virginians are sending a message to Washington DC.
WE ARE NO LONGER ON THE DEFENSE.
WE ARE FIGHTING BACK AND WE ARE DETERMINED.
You made history this session. Take pride in your efforts. Revel in your victory. And soon, prepare to buckle down, because winning a battle does not mean winning a war. There is much left to do.
What have we won?
Five bills passed our legislature.
HB2471: Speaker Rick Thompson’s bill prevents firearms or ammunition confiscations during a time of emergency. This is the “Hurricane Katrina” bill. Jackbooted thugs will not be allowed to storm your home and confiscate your firearms during a state of emergency as happened during Hurricane Katrina.
SB369: Senator John Unger’s bill makes it legal for the Attorney General to enter into a concealed carry reciprocity agreement with any state that is willing to sign. It takes away onerous restrictions we placed on other states, making them ineligible to join with us. At the least, I would expect this to allow the AG’s office to add Georgia and Alabama to our list of reciprocal states.
HB2866: Delegate Bill Hamilton’s bill makes a change to the 500 foot rule. It is currently illegal in West Virginia to discharge a firearm within 500 feet of a building or structure. There is no exception for your own house. So if your nearest neighbor is six miles away, it would still be illegal to shoot within 500 feet of your own house. This bill makes an exception for your own property, as long as no one else’s house or structure is within 500 feet of you. It is a simple change, but it makes sense and is long overdue.
HB2431: Delegate Rupie Phillips bill cleans up the CCW process, and allows for people with old and expunged disqualifying convictions a path to restoring their Second Amendment rights.
A NOTE TO VETERANS ON 2431:
This bill contained a provision to exempt West Virginia’s veterans from the CCW permit fees. This exemption was stripped from the bill by the West Virginia Senate. Senator Corey Palumbo stood in the Senate chamber crying the blues about the poor county sheriffs who will lose so much money. Corey Palumbo doesn’t mind taking money from the pockets of those who have signed a blank check for their very lives on his behalf, because sheriff Snuffy needs a new Glock.
SB435: This bill has a long and twisting story. This bill originally started life as Herb Snyder’s home rule bill. But as most of us know, Delegate Rupie Phillips introduced HB2760 which is statewide preemption. 2760 passed the house near unanimously, and then was unceremoniously killed by Senators Kessler, Snyder, and Palumbo. It looked as if all hope was lost, until home rule passed from the senate to the house. In the house, Delegate Patrick Lane amended the home rule bill to include the full text of 2760. This placed the senate in a bit of a pickle. If they wanted home rule (and my did they) they got preemption too for home rule cities.
The senate hated it, and they hated us for it, but they swallowed their pride and passed SB435 with home-rule cities preempted from nearly all gun ordinances. What will remain:
– Home rule cities may enact carry bans on city hall and municipal courts.
– Home rule cities may prohibit open carry on city parks and other city property, but they MAY NOT prohibit concealed carry with a permit.
– Home rule cities may not restrict how many, or how often you can buy firearms.
– Home rule cities may not restrict the sale of firearms.
Governor Tomblin has expressed some displeasure in the media regarding preemption and home rule. We expect he will sign all of the gun bills from this session, as failure to do so may be political suicide. I doubt he’s willing to fall on his sword on preemptoin for Corey Palumbo and Danny Jones, but we will see.
And now a sad note about every single one of these bills. And I write this with tears welling in my eyes.
Each of these bills over the past six years was originally written and pushed at various times by WVCDL founder, past president, treasurer, and legislative director, the late Jim Mullins. Wherever Jim is, I hope he is proud of what we have done with his organization.
Who Stood With us?
Remember that any politician is only as good as his last and next votes. And we have some representatives who are due credit.
Our Delegate of the Year award, if we had one, would without question go to Delegate Patrick Lane (R-Kanawha). Delegate Lane’s insertion of preemption into the home rule bill was a stroke of strategic genius.
Speaker Rick Thompson (D-Wayne) stood for the residents of Wayne County and fought for preemption tooth and nail. He took on the Senate on our behalf, and fought the fight. When the senate killed preemption a second time by rejecting Patrick Lane’s amendment, the Speaker appointed conference committee members who were willing and able to stand for our rights. Delegates Swartzmiller (D-Hancock), Morgan (D-Hancock), and Azinger (R-Wood) held the line in a contentious conference committee and defended our rights. They did so on behalf of the House leadership.
Delegate Rupie Phillips (D-Logan) introduced two pro-gun bills which ultimately passed in some form. Delegate Phillips fought the fight behind the scenes tirelessly. Every day this session the fight was fought on the behalf of the citizens of Logan county, and all West Virginians. Delegate Phillips did great service of liberty during this session.
Delegate Mark Hunt (D-Kanawha) is from a county that is subject to ragingly anti-liberty, anti-gun press from the Charleston Newspapers, West Virginia Media Holdings (Bray Cary’s State Journal and multiple WV Television Stations). He stood on the House floor and took on the Charleston Gazette directly. Delegate Hunt did what is right for us, despite the media attacks he faced, and will continue to face as a result.
Delegates Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha), Josh Nelson (R-Boone), Larry Faircloth (R-Berkeley), Mike Folk (R-Berkeley), and most of the Republican Caucus stood with us in the House. Their contributions were often both public and direct, as well as work behind the scenes.
Who Stood Against us?
The list of legislators that stood against us is short, but unfortunately, very powerful.
Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall) is the President of the Senate, and fought against your right to bear arms in the form of preemption tooth and nail, only to finally admit defeat and cast a yes vote at the very last second.
Senator Corey Palumbo (D-Kanawha) vocally stood against you and applied political pressure to try to kill preemption at every turn.
Senator Herb Snyder (D-Jefferson) stood against you by being the one to kill the full preemption bill in the Government Organization committee. Further, he complained of “threats,” and blamed the WVCDL directly for them. Yet, there is not one arrest. There is not one indictment. There is not one shred of proof that these alleged “threats” were anything other than manufactured as an excuse for the two above to trample your liberty.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones expended every penny of political capital he could muster in a failed attempt to prevent preemption from coming out of the legislature. He said to the Charleston Gazette, “I don’t think the power of these people is real.”
What now, Danny?
The Charleston Gazette did nearly as I predicted. When preemption passed the house, I predicted that the Gazette would run an anti-gun diatribe per day, through the end of the session. I was off, but only by a small percentage. There were two or three days when they didn’t actually run one. But they made up for it by running two on some days.
Bray Cary and his West Virginia Media Holdings, including multiple publications and multiple news stations fought us at every turn with biased coverage. Bray went as far as to imitate Mike Bloomberg and go to gun shows, attempting to do some sensational “investigative reporting.” The problem with Bray Cary, however, is that he destroyed any shred of his own personal credibility on his own show with me in December. Go away, Bray. No one’s listening to you anymore.
What Happens Now?
I expect the Governor to sign all of the gun bills.
The WVCDL will remember that any elected representative is only as good as his last and next votes.
The WVCDL will continue the fight to educate the voters of Senate Districts 2 (Kessler), and 16 (Snyder) about their representatives fighting against their right to keep and bear arms tooth and nail.
The WVCDL will be scheduling a state-wide meeting in the next couple of months to get together, fellowship, and discuss the legislative session.
The WVCDL will be forming a Political Action Committee to get us into the fight another way.
The WVCDL will be scheduling meetings around the state for to recruit membership and support to the cause.
Food for Thought
(This will be a running footnote for a while)
I have personal friends in Colorado who five years ago, would never have believed it could happen to them.
Think about that.
West Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc.