Today, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed three NRA-backed bills into law: SB 149, SB 353 and SB 478. All three laws will take effect on June 8, 2012.
Senate Bill 149, introduced by state Senate Majority Leader John Unger (D-16), will mandate police authorities return all seized firearms, not currently being held as evidence in a criminal investigation, to the lawful owner if able. If that owner is not found or unable to take possession of the firearm, SB 149 will require the sale of these firearms at a public auction to a licensed firearms dealer. Current West Virginia law allows for seized guns to be immediately destroyed. SB 149 will prevent the wasteful and expensive practice of destroying firearms that could be re-circulated through licensed dealers to the retail market.
Senate Bill 353, introduced by state Senate President Jeff Kessler (D-2) and Senate Majority Leader Unger, will expedite the process of purchasing a firearm for valid concealed carry permit holders by making West Virginia eligible for an exemption from the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Such carry permit holders have already cleared a background check. This law will further conform state law to federal law and lead to greater reciprocity for permit holders throughout the United States.