WV House passes bill to prevent seizure of firearms - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

WV House passes bill to prevent seizure of firearms

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, police officers confiscated hundreds of firearms. The West Virginia House of Delegates has taken a major step in ensuring something similar doesn't happen here.

House Bill 2471 passed the House unanimously Feb. 22. The bill, introduced by Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, would prohibit the restriction on lawful use of firearms and ammunition during a declared state of emergency. The bill is backed by the National Rifle Association and also creates a legal course of action for those whose weapons are unlawfully confiscated under this bill.

"This was a very important bill and there's a lot of reasons for it," said Delegate Larry Faircloth, R-Berkeley. "It's the first bill (passed by the House this session) to protect Second Amendment rights, it helps West Virginia basically take a stand and it protects residents and their constitutional values. If this bill would have had trouble on the floor, many more would have. But it's great to see we had unanimous consent and that everybody stood together on behalf of the residents and citizens of West Virginia to protect their rights."

This piece of legislation is the first of several introduced to the House concerning guns and gun rights. The House Roads and Transportation Committee recently approved a bill that would make it lawful for those with concealed carry permits to store their guns in cars parked on Capitol grounds. House Bill 2560 would provide exceptions to the prohibition of the possession of deadly weapons on school grounds. House Bill 2580 would make invalid any future federal, state or local statutes concerning firearms, firearm accessories and ammunition.

Faircloth said the passage of HB 2471 means these other bills might have a chance.

"This bills sets the stage for other bills that will come out on the House floor," he said, noting anyone would vote in support of protecting Second Amendment rights, but "are they going to take it farther with some of these bills that will protect us, period?"

Delegate Josh Nelson, R-Boone, is a member of the West Virginia National Guard. He said when members of the military are overseas, it gives them peace of mind knowing family members can protect themselves.

"People like myself who serve in the National Guard and overseas are often at a distance away from our families," he said, adding voting in favor of the bill fulfilled delegates' oath of office to protect and defend the constitution.

Delegate Ricky Moye, D-Raleigh, was the only Democrat to rise in favor of the bill. He said the bill is an important one and encouraged his colleagues to vote in favor of the legislation.

"This is a very important bill that, in the event of an emergency when we need protection the most, we will be ensured we can do that," he said. "We can protect ourselves and our families."

The bill will now move to the Senate, where 25 of 34 members are Democrats. But Faircloth said he's not worried about what could happen to the bill once it crosses over.

"I think when it comes down to it, if you're talking numbers in the House we have 46 members who are technically defined as conservative by ticket, but we have 54 who are Democratic or liberal by ticket," he said. "I think this is a constitutional value, a moral value and a personal value.

"As far as it going to the Senate, people are people," he added. "We can be lawmakers every day but when it comes down to a way of life, people are people."