The 2009 regular session of the West Virginia Legislature began Feb. 11 and will continue through April 11. Now that the session is underway, we have reactivated the WVCDL Legislative Tracking Service at http://www.wvcdl.org/LegislationTracking.html Several important bills for gun owners were introduced today:

SB 31, by Senator Dave Sypolt, R-Preston, would provide landowners limited immunity from civil liability for injuries sustained by hunters. This bill is designed to encourage landowners to allow hunters to use their land. SB 31 is cosponsored by senators Frank Deem, R-Wood, Ron Stollings, D-Boone, Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, Bill Laird, D-Fayette, and Mike Hall, R-Putnam. SB 31 has been referred to the Senate Natural Resources Committee, then the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 139, by Senator Barnes, is a WVCDL-authored bill designed to protect gun dealers from the types of entrapment schemes used in recent years by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to circumvent a federal law barring most types of lawsuits against gun dealers. These schemes used veritable armies of private investigators (who were neither law-enforcement officers nor working with any official law-enforcement investigation) to conduct illegal “straw” purchases in which the investigators would attempt to portray the dealer as knowing of the scheme so Bloomberg could sue those dealers for their allegedly unlawful sales practices. These schemes are illegal under federal law but neither Bloomberg nor any of his henchmen were ever prosecuted. To prevent future incidents, several states—including Virginia and Georgia—passed state laws making straw purchases a crime under state law. This bill is based on those laws. SB 139 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 147, by Senator Sypolt, would repeal the State Capitol carry ban. This is the most important bill among the bills introduced today. We deserve the same right to protect ourselves when visiting the State Capitol as we would in most other public places. Several states—including New Hampshire, Oregon, and Virginia, among other states—allow carrying in their state capitols. SB 147 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 148, by Senator Barnes, would recognize all other states’ concealed handgun licenses and qualify West Virginia for reciprocity with Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, New Hampshire, and North Dakota, among other states. However, this bill has been referred to the Senate Interstate Cooperation Committee, which only meets as an interim committee, followed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Essentially, this bill is DOA. However, we will soon have a more comprehensive concealed carry overhaul bill introduced that will include the same reciprocity provisions as SB 148.

Tomorrow, Delegate John Doyle, D-Jefferson, is going to reintroduce his perennial one handgun per month bill. We believe this bill will go nowhere, just as it has every other year he has introduced it. The advance sheets for the House of Delegates indicate this bill will be designated HB 2299. Its text will not be available online until after tomorrow’s floor session.

WVCDL continues to work on securing the introduction of other bills on our legislative agenda, which is available at WVCDL's Proposals for the West Virginia Legislature

To view the latest information on all gun-related bills pending in the West Virginia Legislature, please visit WVCDL’s Legislative Tracking Service at http://www.wvcdl.org/LegislationTracking.html

Remember, Lobby Day is Monday, March 2, 2009!