Constitutional carry proposals on deck in 3 states

Lawmakers in Idaho, Virginia, and West Virginia are backing measures that would leave behind permitting requirements for carrying a concealed weapon.

The proposal in Virginia is already making its way through the state legislature, passing the Republican-led Senate Courts of Justice Committee on Wednesday, while the other measures are in their infancy.

Backers of the legislation argue it is just a simplification of current gun laws based on the Constitution.

“It’s based on the idea that the Second Amendment is a constitutional right and that citizens have a right to carry firearms without permission of the government,” said Virginia state Sen. Richard H. Black, R-Loudoun. “It’s analogous to the First Amendment, where you don’t need a government permit to tell you what you can say and what you can’t.”

Black’s measure, SB 48, would allow anyone legally able to possess a handgun under state and federal law to carry one concealed without a permit. The state would continue to issue concealed handgun licenses for the purpose of out of state reciprocity.

While Republicans have a hold on the Virginia senate, Black’s proposal faces an uphill climb in the Democrat-heavy House and would need the unlikely signature of gun-control stalwart Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

In neighboring West Virginia on Tuesday, state Rep. Saira Blair, R-Berkley, who earned national attention by becoming the state’s youngest lawmaker at age 18 two years ago, introduced legislation to the state House to allow for permitless carry for any law-abiding individual over 21. Her measure also allows for a new “provisional” permit for those between 18 and 21.

Blair’s bill has been referred to the House Judiciary committee and joins Sen. Dave Sypolt’s SB 314 as the latest attempt to bring the practice to the state. Last year, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed an otherwise successful constitutional carry bill over pressure from law enforcement and gun control groups.

A GOP-backed bill in Idaho was released Wednesday that would make constitutional carry legal statewide. Current law allows for the practice only in rural areas, which can be confusing for those traveling and is expected to be introduced to the state House in coming days.