Sustained Outrage

West Virginia gets an ‘F’ on gun safety

Frank Kulick

Frank Kulick, adjusts a display of wooden crosses, and a Jewish Star of David, representing the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, on his front lawn, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

As Saturday’s one-year anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., approaches, it’s worth looking at the latest scorecard on state gun safety legislation from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign, which explains:

Since Newtown, so much has changed. The slaughter of innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary School sent shockwaves through the nation and ignited a passionate call for our leaders to take steps to prevent gun violence. When Congress failed to pass any new gun violence prevention legislation in 2013, including the overwhelmingly popular legislation to expand background checks, state legislatures answered the call.

Starting last January, legislators in state houses across the country began introducing a record number of bills to strengthen gun laws. Even states with historically weak gun laws, like Florida, Missouri, and Texas, took action towards sensible gun legislation. In fact, twenty-one states enacted new laws to curb gun violence in their communities, with eight of these states passing major reforms—far eclipsing the corporate gun lobby’s limited success in state legislatures in 2013.

In the grading, West Virginia received an “F”. The ratings noted, among other things two piece of legislation that passed this year that weaken gun regulation:

— HB 2431 — Makes concealed weapon permit holders exempt from background checks, clarifies mental health requirements and makes other changes to CCW permit law.

— S 369 — Provides automatic reciprocity with concealed weapon permits from all other states.

The scorecard goes on to explain that West Virginia does not:

— Require a background check prior to the transfer of a firearm between unlicensed individuals;

— Require firearms dealers to obtain a state license;

— Regulate the transfer or possession of assault weapons, 50 caliber rifles, or large capacity ammunition magazines;

— Require gun owners to obtain a license, register their firearms, or report lost or stolen firearms;

— Limit the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time;

— Impose a waiting period before the sale of a firearm;

— Regulate unsafe handguns (“junk guns” or “Saturday night specials”);

— Significantly regulate ammunition;

— Allow local governments to regulate firearms; or

— Give local law enforcement discretion to deny a concealed handgun permit.


In 2010, West Virginia had the 13th highest number of gun deaths per capita among the states. In addition, based on data published by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, in 2009, West Virginia supplied the 2nd highest number of crime guns to other states per capita, and the state exports far more crime guns than it imports.