Passage of 2015 Firearms Act cause for concern

The West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee recently passed a bill enabling the Firearms Act of 2015, allowing anyone over the age of 18 to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

Sen. Robert Karnes, R-Upshur, said he advocated this bill because he believes citizens have a constitutional right to defend themselves.

“I believe that charging somebody for a permit in order to have this weapon that you may well need, is a violation of a basic and an inherent right and obviously a violation of the second amendment,” Karnes said.

Marshall University students and staff members have expressed concern since Senate Bill 347 was passed.

Pamela Mulder, psychology professor and faculty senate liaison for the Legislative Affairs Committee, said she wrote a letter to congress emphasizing the need for proper gun training before obtaining a weapon.

“There are many people out there who do not handle their emotions very well,” Mulder said. “You’ve seen them get mad. You’ve seen road rage. You’ve seen all these other responses. The only thing I could imagine would be worse would be an untrained person carrying a gun and shouting at strangers.”

Political science professor Marybeth Beller said she opposes the bill because having a weapon is not the same thing as protecting oneself.

“The idea that is largely promoted in society is that if everyone is armed, everyone can defend him or herself,” Beller said. “The logic is that isn’t true. People who successfully defend themselves with firearms are very trained in how to do so.”

Karnes countered this argument and said most people in West Virginia are already familiar with safe gun practices.

“It’s not really an issue here that much,” Karnes said. “I think almost anybody who actually gets a gun is going to want to know how to use it properly. I’m not against training. I just don’t think it should be a requirement.”

Karnes said SB 347 is currently in the House of Delegates Judiciary, and he said he thinks it will pass soon.

Amy Napier can be contacted at [email protected]